Retail

Uber Ups Its Game With Scooters

Uber

One of the biggest stories in retail continues to be Uber’s effort to move well beyond its core offering of automotive ridesharing. Now the company, recently off its initial public offering (IPO), reportedly is “ showing JUMP bikes, scooters and Lime scooters in the main map you see when you first open the Uber app in Atlanta, Ga. and San Diego, Calif.”

According to that report, “This is the first time Uber has so prominently displayed a third-party’s services within its own app.” While the ridesharing company has offered apps through a partnership with Lime for several months, it had not until recently displayed those Lime apps so prominently. And the report noted that Lime has now added Uber branding to its scooters in those two cities. Uber and Lime officially partnered about a year ago.

Scooter Challenges

Bike and scooter sharing are expanding to more cities as mobility-as-a-service retail offerings continue to grow. But that doesn’t mean everything is coming up roses.

For instance, Chinese bikesharing company Mobike, which once attracted billions from big-name investors, said it is closing down all of its operations around the world, to focus solely on China. Mobike laid off its teams in Asia Pacific countries, according to a recent report, and those teams were made up of about 15 full-timers plus contractors through India, Thailand and Malaysia, among other countries. Laid-off team members were told that Mobike was ramping down its business, but they weren’t told why. The Asia Pacific region has the most employees outside of China, so job cuts there were the first step in the consolidation process.

And according to another report from earlier this year, ridesharing firm Lyft — which made some financials public in advance of its anticipated initial public offering — “has laid off around 50 staff in its bike and scooter division, mainly people who had joined” the ridesharing firm when it bought Motivate, an electric bike-sharing provider. That deal came after Lyft rival Uber bought bikesharing operator JUMP.

Even so, it’s difficult to take these two bits of news and say exactly what is really happening in the sharing space for bikes and scooters, except to say that things are happening. That holds true on the political and cultural level, where lawmakers, citizens, commuters and others are coming to terms with the placement of bikes and scooters, the retrieval and recharging process for them, and all the other seemingly mundane issues that can help make or break emerging ecosystems, or parts of them. Those controversies have notably played out in San Francisco, though other cities are going through them as well.

Meanwhile, Bird has announced its acquisition of electric vehicle company Scoot. Together, the companies will offer riders more vehicles equipped with the latest technology advancements for the sharing market, and provide services in more communities.

Bird also made news when Apple announced last month that it was teaming up with partners — including Bird — on special tags that can trigger purchases with Apple Pay without the need for a special app. With Bird, for instance, customers must currently download the company’s app and find a nearby scooter before scanning a quick-response (QR) code. However, with the new implementation, customers can simply tap their phones and begin their trips.

Uber Earnings

As for Uber, it released its first earnings report earlier this year, and disclosed an expected $1 billion in losses in 2019 Q1, on a revenue of $3.1 billion.

“Earlier this month we took the important step of becoming a public company, and we are now focused on executing our strategy to become a one-stop shop for local transportation and commerce,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement about the company’s earnings. “In the first quarter, engagement across our platform was higher than ever, with an average of 17 million trips per day and an annualized gross bookings run-rate of $59 billion.”

As Uber seeks to improve its financials, expect more retail and consumer-directed moves from that company, including in other forms of transportation.

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