Operations

Uber wants to power local commerce

At ShopTalk, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discussed the vision behind the company's moves to expand delivery beyond food.

Uber wants to power local commerce

(Photo via Uber)

As it expands delivery options beyond food to retail goods, Uber is planting a flag around the area it wants to win: local commerce.

At ShopTalk on Tuesday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is looking to help merchants "out-Amazon Amazon" by providing technology to local merchants that can assist with fulfillment, pricing, routing and other operations that power local delivery of goods. It aims to be the "omnichannel partner for local merchants," he said. Combine that with Uber's delivery network and a user base that allows retailers to reach a large audience, Khosrowshahi said the company believes it can grow the service beyond the size of rivals when it comes to delivering items locally.

During the keynote session, Bloomberg TV's Emily Chang asked how he would characterize the company's ambitions, referencing Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke's famous declaration that his platform was "arming the rebels."

"We're arming the local rebels," Khosrowshahi said.

After moving into delivery with Uber Eats, Amazon expanded the available items beyond food over the last two years. It started delivering essential items in the pandemic, and has added more available items over the last two years. Coming on the heels of the company's Super Bowl ad campaign that showed celebrities tasting Uber Eats-delivered items that weren't food, Khosrowshahi's declaration points to how the company that started with ridesharing sees its role in ecommerce. With the ad campaign, the company is testing whether to keep the Uber Eats name for its delivery division even though it has more, but indications so far are that the Uber Eats brand will remain, Khosrowshahi said.

After all, it's clear that food will still play a big role. When it comes to groceries, Khosrowshahi said that "rapid delivery should be a part of every local grocery player's offerings," adding that the company believes it can be set up in a "capital light way."

The company also made a move toward adding convenience options on Tuesday, as it announced a global partnership with BP that aims to make 3,000 of the company's retail locations available on Uber's delivery platform over the next three years to provide items from the stores. It's about

It comes as delivery of groceries and convenience items is picking up on a variety of platforms. DoorDash and Grubhub are making moves, while goPuff built a business on delivering convenience items. Instacart, Whole Foods and others deliver groceries.

For its part, Uber believes that being able to bring together rides, food and retail items will create a flywheel effect.

"We are going to build that local operating system for every day life," Khosrowshahi said. Logistics technology made available to retailers will be a key component.

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