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Uber Delivery Expands Non-Restaurant Business With Launch of Courier Pickup

Uber

Uber’s delivery business is expanding beyond restaurants to include courier service from merchants not partnered with the company — a move that comes as aggregators race to capture consumers’ loyalty outside of mealtimes.

The company announced Tuesday (Dec. 5) the launch of its “Store Pickup” feature, through which consumers can send couriers to collect items ordered for pickup from stores and drop them off either at a person’s address or at another specified location — a launch that comes in time for the company to capture consumers’ last-minute gifting occasions.

“[The courier can] bring delight and actually be sort of a Secret Santa, delivering that package directly to the recipient,” Wendy Lee, director of delivery product management at Uber, told PYMNTS in an interview. “… I’ve already used it a few times myself. There’s a local bakery in Manhattan that I love called Lysee. They have these gorgeous cakes, but they don’t list on any marketplace today. So, for a friend’s birthday, I actually ordered one of these [for courier pickup].”

The feature is available at stores not on Uber’s marketplace, expanding the company’s reach to enable it to capture occasions outside of its retail partners. To make this possible, users upload receipts on the Uber app, which the courier can then show to the retailer to confirm proof of purchase. The service has a price cap of $200 and a weight maximum of 30 pounds.

Lee stated that she does not anticipate many challenges with the feature, since it builds on the company’s existing Uber Connect courier offerings, but she predicted that it may be challenging to ensure that consumers upload their receipts.

The holiday gifting opportunity is significant, according to the study “The Credit Economy: How Consumers Are Approaching Holiday Spending and Travel,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and i2c collaboration. The report, which drew on a survey of more than 3,300 U.S. consumers, revealed that spending on gifts will rise moderately this holiday season compared to last year and average roughly $1,000 across demographics.

Additionally, Lee noted that other peak gifting times such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, as well as year-round birthdays, will drive use outside the winter holidays.

Plus, the move comes as part of Uber’s overall push to meet consumers’ growing demand for immediate fulfillment options, a use case that will grow the feature’s applicability beyond last-minute holiday gifting.

“It’s consumer behavior that we increasingly see an uptick in, where the expectations for speed become increasingly faster and faster, and so we expect that consumers will actually use this for everyday needs,” Lee said.

Overall, aggregators are increasingly targeting consumers’ non-restaurant spending, adding new retail partners and bringing more grocers onto their marketplaces. Additionally, key players are finding ways to carve out occasions outside of the typical model of on-demand delivery from merchant partners. For instance, DoorDash has its Package Pickup option for returns, and both DoorDash and Uber Eats have launched nationwide shipping businesses.

Down the line, Lee noted, Uber intends to “iterate on [Store Pickup] and bring some more features and delight to it,” but for now, fittingly for the gifting season, the company is keeping these specifics “under wraps.”