Uber has launched ‘Corner Store,’ an experimental service rolling out first to DC area customers that offers pick up and delivery services on-demand instead of just transportation. Corner Store works by letting users request daily staples like toothpaste, over the counter medicine, health and beauty supplies and over 100 more items right from the Uber app.
The test of Uber’s Corner Store will run over the next few weeks at least, depending on user response, and will allow people to use the existing app to toggle to the item delivery service using a button. It’ll ask you to set your delivery location, provided it’s within the coverage area, and pending driver availability, it’ll let you know what’s available for pickup via text message. Drivers then call the person doing the ordering to confirm their order, and the driver then confirms the order in person before completing the pickup. Hours of operation are during the week only, between 9 AM and 9 PM, but Uber is looking at extending availability by building driver supply.
Item pricing is listed in the inventory list, and you’re only charged what the list says the item(s) cost, with no fee for delivery and no tip required. All charges are paid via your existing Uber account, too, so there’s no need for cash or cards.
This is a big stakes experiment for Uber, which is also trialling other new lines of business including Uber Movers for shifting house, and UberRUSH, an NYC-based courier service. This Uber Corner Store experiment is similar to that last one, but limits the types of goods that can be ordered, and actually poses more of a threat to grocery delivery and same-day services like those offered by Amazon and Google than to traditional courier businesses. It also challenges Postmates and WunWun, though it’s starting in a market where it will face less competition overall.
Admittedly, there are times when I go days squeezing the last remnants out of old toothpaste tubes or mostly empty shampoo containers because I’m too lazy to walk 500 feet to the nearest corner store, so I can see how this would appeal. I’m curious about the economics, however, and how well this line of business can work for Uber at scale.