Now Uber takes on the parcels business

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A couple of months ago I suggested that there might be a role for a freight version of Uber, the mobile phone app that allows customers to book and track mini-cabs.

Well, Uber has just launched such a service. “Corner Store” is being trialled in Washington DC. Customers can order from a list of some 100 items through the Uber app, and they will be delivered the same day by an Uber driver.

There is no delivery fee – customers are only charged for the sum of the items ordered.

At the moment, Corner Store is a limited time experiment, “but the more you love it, the more likely it will last”, says Uber in a blog.

There are question marks over the economics of this initiative. Products are priced to be competitive with local stores and delivery is free, so can it really be profitable?

I have seen suggestions that Corner Store has been devised as a way of keeping Uber drivers busy during quiet periods for the normal taxi service.

And that could be key to success for this initiative. If the core of a driver’s earning are coming from taxi services, then delivering a few packages at quiet times is just bunce.

The question is, will Corner Store get the critical mass it needs to succeed? It will be a few weeks before we know the answer to that.


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