Merchant Innovation

Uber's Loyalty Play Links Merchant Deals To Free Rides

Uber has shown that it's far from shy about putting its brand alongside other ventures, and it's recently demonstrated propensity for non-automotive transport is an indication that innovators there don't lack the spine to take some risks when necessary.

However, Uber's latest partnership — or partnerships — might be a safer and more profitable play than anything it's done.

TechCrunch reported that Uber has been quietly testing a new platform called Uber Offers, where riders are incentivized to shop at merchants through in-app prompts in exchange for credits eligible for use on the ride-hailing service. As long as the same credit card linked to Uber accounts is used for purchases at participating retailers, within a few days after accepting the offer, riders will receive between $5 and $20 to use on their next rides.

TrialPay, a Visa-backed startup with a focus on brokering app-brand partnerships, is working the gears behind the scenes of Uber Offers, and David Richter, Uber's vice president of strategic initiatives, believes it to be a perfect match.

“We are always looking for new ways to delight our customers and offer unique local experiences,” Richter told TechCrunch. “We’re excited to partner with Visa on this initiative.”

In prototype phase up until this week, Uber Offers debuted in Boston, New York, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco, with partnerships featuring Shake Shack, Dunkin' Donuts and Whole Foods. However, this week marks Uber Offers' first national rollout, and the timing couldn't be better. Alongside ProFlowers, Uber will be promoting bouquet sales and delivery for all those ride-sharing procrastinators who haven't gotten their ducks in a row ahead of Mother's Day.

It's all part of Uber's neverending journey to make the rides it provides a more intuitive part of consumers' normal shopping routines. If it can entice some people to order an Uber in the hopes of a discount instead of walking, driving or — gasp — taking a Lyft, it's all the better.

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