While it’s not quite accurate to say that everyone loves Uber, for many consumers, to know Uber is love Uber.
That’s because when it comes to payments, Uber manages to deliver the same semi-mystical experience to consumers every time they use it – a smooth, steady service that is seamless at every juncture, from how the rider pays to how drivers themselves get paid.
“We all love the experience of Uber,” Terry Angelos, Visa’s VP of Offers and Loyalty, told Karen Webster in a recent chat. “When a consumer gets out of the car, the payment is taken care of. Simple, easy, frictionless and the same, consistent experience consumers are looking for.”
This, Angelos notes, is Uber’s straightforward, yet incredibly difficult-to-replicate loyalty recipe— though the challenge of doing so certainly hasn’t stopped others from trying, giving consumers a multitude of options to choose from in an ever-expanding universe of other transportation options.
And as no one can quite out-Uber Uber, Visa saw the Uber platform as a natural way to both expand and contextualize commerce for the many local merchants that Uber “touches” through millions of rides in hundreds of communities worldwide.
“What we were excited about was extending a completely frictionless experience in the car, outside the car,” Angelos told Webster.
That excitement yielded Uber’s and Visa’s most recent collaboration, announced this morning: Uber Local Offers.
The premise of the program is simple: Uber riders who’ve registered Visa cards to their Uber accounts can rack up rewards points by using that same Visa card at various local merchants. Uber users get one point for every dollar spent at a partner merchant and are notified via the Uber app when they spend money at those local merchants. Once users have racked up 100 points, they get a $10 ride credit on Uber.
“It seems like natural piece of symbiosis,” Angelos noted, which he says gives local partners the ability to be part of a loyalty program without having to do anything other than to opt in.
The opportunity could Uber-sized, as well.
Uber riders spend billions a year in their local communities, often shortly after stepping out of an Uber. The degree to which consumers can get rewarded for either trying out a new merchant— or patronizing a local favorite— can deliver the sweetest reward of all: incremental sales for the merchant, and more rides with Uber. To illustrate, allow actress Kaley Cuoco to explain this new program, highlighting two of her favorite Los Angeles restaurants, Barcito and The Pie Hole.
Of course, for some merchants, this loyalty level-up may not make much of a difference, Angelos notes, particularly larger ones with well-established loyalty programs of their own. But for those small, main street merchants that make up an important segment of the business community in many of the locales Uber often serves, it can make a world of difference.
“This isn’t going to replace established loyalty programs, not by a long shot. But if you’re a mom and pop store, this is a pretty compelling way to hop into a loyalty program that has instant scale.”
And choice for their merchant partners, and a way to think beyond the payment when it comes to transactions, is really the bottom line is for Visa.
Uber Local Offers is powered by Visa Commerce Network, which is focused on helping merchants go beyond payments to driving sales to their establishments – as Angelos notes, “enabling a capability so that merchants can get more from Visa.”
At its core, Uber Local Offers is about building and strengthening relationships between riders, Uber and local businesses, and based on early feedback from beta tests, it appears to be working.
“What we are seeing on both sides is that there is incremental rides and incremental spend in those stores. And that is how this program is designed to work: to create a symbiosis between riders and the local community, while rewarding cardholders for everyday purchases,” Angelos explained to Webster.
The program exists today in L.A. and San Francisco with plans to expand to other cities in the near future. For more information, view the press release.