In an effort to meet with the demand for the rapid delivery of food, toiletries, and cleaning products amide the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber’s Eats unit is accelerating its push into grocery delivery. Currently, the expansion includes a number of new alliances with retailers, including French supermarket Carrefour.
According to the Financial Times, the San Francisco-based company is launching the new service in locations around the world, from Brazil to France. This move into supermarket deliveries brings the company closer in competition with companies like Amazon.
Uber also believes their new Eats model has an advantage over rivals’ apps that specialize in food delivery and other ride-hailing companies because it can transfer drivers from one portion of the business to another.
With the spread of the coronavirus, traditional supermarket delivery services have become overwhelmed in recent weeks as a result of panic buying. In some cases, customers have had to schedule orders several weeks in advance. Uber’s goal is to reduce this congestion by delivering a smaller range of essential items within as little as 30 minutes.
With a significant drop-off in the company’s rideshare service, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi believes the Eats business could act as a potential counterbalance. It could also provide work for drivers who are no longer transporting passengers as regularly because of the many stay-at-home orders.
While Uber Eats had already planned to expand into grocery delivery, those plans were accelerated because of the pandemic. In addition to striking deals with many different supermarkets and convenience store groups around the world, the company is also modifying the Eats app to accommodate orders.
For customers in areas where the service is now available, they are able to order products from a number of stores, including grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and pet stores. Orders can be placed using the platform’s app or website, or by phone call. The pricing of items is set by the retailers.
While this service is not yet available in the United States, there are plans for continued expansion. However, the company does foresee some problems in countries where private vehicle hire regulations prevent drivers from delivering food or other packages.
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