Uber Expands Delivery Options

Uber, Uber Connect, Uber Direct, last-mile delivery, groceries, necessities, friends and family, coronavirus

Uber is introducing an expanded roster of delivery options to provide on-demand and scheduled last-mile delivery solutions for consumers and businesses alike. 

Uber Direct will roll out in select cities, Uber said in a statement on Sunday (April 19), delivering everything from groceries and convenience store items to over-the-counter medications and even packages. Uber Connect enables users to send packages to family and friends.

“This is just a start: we’ll continue to leverage our technology to quickly adapt and meet the changing needs of our business partners and customers, wherever they are. … Our goal is for Uber Connect and Uber Direct to help drivers find essential work today while unlocking new opportunities in the future,” according to the statement. “Whether it’s a care package, a board game, or an extra roll of much-needed toilet paper, you can send it by requesting ‘Uber Connect’ in the Uber app.”

Uber had a similar program two years ago and the company said the new services might not be offered beyond the current lockdown if it can’t be done profitably, according to a report in the Financial Times.

For the pilot program of Uber Direct, the rideshare giant partnered with the OTC drug company Cabinet, located in New York; Australian pet food firm Pet Barn; and CTT, Portugal’s postal service. For the pilot of Uber Connect, people can send personal items across town to family and friends.

“Throughout this crisis, we’ve been looking for new ways our platform can help move essential goods for businesses and consumers, while providing new earning opportunities for drivers,” Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber, told FT. “Our primary focus is the immediate: quickly adapting our technology to meet the evolving needs of communities and companies.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused Uber to withdraw its 2020 guidance as it anticipates a $1.9-$2.2 billion impairment charge and $17-22 million in first-quarter losses. The impairment charge — a writeoff for worthless goodwill — will affect the carrying value of its minority equity investments. Uber’s latest annual report shows it has minority stakes in Didi, Grab, Yandex.Taxi and Zomato.