This story was originally published by CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was written by Barbara Thau.
Uber’s big growth vehicle has nothing to do with hailing a ride: The app’s grocery delivery business, launched in July 2020, soared amid the pandemic and boasts nearly three million monthly customers today.
The iconic startup is now capitalizing on that success with a bold push into global retail by delivering everything from food to pet products to meet the “massive shift in consumer demand” spurred by COVID-19, Raj Beri, vice president and global head of grocery and new verticals for Uber, told CO—.
Here, Beri shares how the brand, whose core ride-sharing business flagged as the nation sheltered in place, leaned into food to unlock growth. By partnering with mega merchants like Albertsons and Costco to mom-and-pop shops, it’s now intent on bringing “the best of local commerce to consumers’ doorsteps.”
CO—: What’s been Uber’s biggest growth area?
RB: Throughout the pandemic, the world has experienced a massive shift in consumer demand — and expectations — for delivery. With our global logistics expertise and vast network of independent delivery people, Uber has been uniquely positioned to meet this need, and over the last 18 months has driven a push into expanded offerings across grocery, convenience, alcohol and retail.
This strategic push has met demand from consumers, as well as merchants and retailers who are looking to reach their customers in new ways. By broadening our global ordering and delivery offerings into grocery, convenience, alcohol, specialty goods, pet supplies, flowers and more, we’re leveraging the best of Uber to move what matters within hours if not minutes, to the benefit of consumers, local merchants and, of course, [drivers], with increased delivery opportunities.
Through these efforts, we’ve leveraged Uber’s technology expertise and global scale to bring on-demand delivery to local commerce worldwide.
CO—: Why was the initiative launched and how was it executed?
RB: In July of 2020 we announced Uber’s acquisition of [delivery app] Cornershop and the global launch of grocery on Uber Eats. The integration of Cornershop, which is still underway, and continued grocery efforts globally is powering Uber’s shift from delivery of food and movement of people to the best of local commerce delivered to consumers’ doorsteps.
Notably since that time, we have signed major partnerships, and consumers will find a variety of options like Walgreens and Rite-Aid to big grocers like Albertsons and Southeastern Grocers in the U.S., Walmart in Canada, Costco in Mexico and major players like Carrefour who we work within Europe and LatAm [Latin America] and Sainsbury’s in the UK. And this is in addition to the 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses who choose to partner with us worldwide.
At the end of the day, Uber aspires to connect consumers and merchants to satisfy day-to-day needs, on-demand.
For merchants, we’ve been able to provide a set of plug-and-play services that can cut time and cost from the budget — especially for small businesses. Whether listed on the Uber Eats app, or brought to consumers through offerings like Uber Direct and Uber Connect, we’re helping merchants of all sizes modernize their businesses and reach new customers by providing technology solutions and logistics expertise. Every day, around the globe, we’re helping more merchants get their products listed for sale online and out for delivery quickly and efficiently.
Related: Startups Monetize the Pandemic-Fueled ‘Buy Local’ Movement
CO—: What’s been one concrete return on investment from Uber’s grocery growth?
RB: This past year has been one of incredible growth for grocery delivery. Since launching in 2020, today nearly 3 million consumers order groceries and other essentials each month through Uber—and we’re just getting started. All told, Uber’s expanded offerings into grocery and other new verticals has reached a $3 billion annual run rate [projected revenue] in 2021.
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