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Uber expands grocery delivery offerings for customers, retailers

Uber is bolstering its grocery delivery capabilities.

Uber is rolling out a range of new features designed to strengthen its position in the online grocery delivery space.

The company is building on its 2020 acquisition of global delivery startup Cornershop by adding several features to its Uber Eats U.S. grocery delivery service that are based on Cornershop technologies and processes. Starting the week of July 24 in select U.S. cities and rolling out across the country during the summer, U.S. consumers and grocery retailers will begin to see new Uber Eats grocery shopping and delivery features.

New features for consumers include:

Live order tracking. Shoppers will scan the barcode of each item they pick off the shelf with their mobile phone, notifying the customer in real time. If a desired product is out of stock or the shopper picks the wrong item, the customer can chat with the shopper to make sure they only receive an acceptable product. If one is not available in the store, the customer can get a full refund.

“Customers will almost be able to see items being taken off shelf and out into cart,” Therese Lim, senior director of product, Uber Eats New Verticals and Uber Direct, said in an invitation-only virtual press conference announcing the new grocery features. “We want to make our grocery delivery product work exactly like going to a grocery store in real life.”

24/7 shopping. Customers can now shop for groceries via the Uber Eats app at any time of day, regardless of whether a partner grocery store is open. If a store is closed when a customer places an order, they can select the earliest available delivery window or select a time that best suits their needs.

New features for retailers include:

Improved product catalog functionality: Uber is now offering its grocery retailer partners a universal product catalog. Retailers can add an unlimited assortment of product SKUs, with high-quality images.

Enhanced support and training: Retailers and Uber Eats drivers and shoppers now have access to increased support and training resources, on a 24/7 basis.

“We want to better fulfill demand at an Uber scale, globally,” said Oskar Hjertonsson, founder and CEO at Cornershop by Uber, during the press conference. “We are betting in a huge way on global grocery.”

Grocery items are now available for delivery from Uber in 33 countries. Uber’s grocery delivery partners in the U.S. include Walmart, Costco, and Albertsons.

Uber Eats pursues delivery innovation
In general, Uber has been pursuing innovative delivery offerings. For example, its Uber Eats division is also now conducting two separate pilots of two very different autonomous delivery vehicles in the Los Angeles area. 

Uber Eats is conducting end-to-end food deliveries for customers in Santa Monica, Calif. using Motional all-electric, self-driving Ioniq 5 “robotaxis.” The Motional Ioniq 5 vehicles used in the service have been adapted to enable autonomous deliveries. Upon arrival at the drop-off location, the customer will receive an alert, securely unlock the vehicle door via the Uber Eats app, and collect their order from the backseat.

Uber is also partnering with autonomous sidewalk delivery company Serve Robotics to pilot an on-demand robotic delivery service in Los Angeles. Uber Eats customers in the Los Angeles area are now able to have orders delivered contact-free by zero-emissions Serve rovers.

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