Since people in quarantine don’t need many Uber rides, the company is now delivering goods.
Uber announced Monday the official launch of Uber Direct and Uber Connect, two trial programs that let people get groceries, medications, and basic supplies, like toilet paper, delivered.
Direct brings items from stores to people’s homes. In New York City, Cabinet is delivering medical supplies and toiletries, while Greencross in Australia is sending out pet supplies.
Since we’re all keeping our distance, Uber Connect lets you send care packages or extra supplies to a friend or family member nearby. If you scored a bulk load of toilet paper at Costco you can spread the wealth to your friend across town.
The two programs also give drivers an opportunity to earn something while still using the Uber platform. Uber Connect is available in 25 cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Australia.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke about the urgency of the new programs in an email statement, “Our primary focus is the immediate: quickly adapting our technology to meet the evolving needs of communities and companies. While things are moving at a rapid pace, we are leaning in to delivery at Uber speed, and keeping our eyes on the future.”
On Thursday the company officially withdrew its financial guidance for future earnings, blaming the downturn on the impact of coronavirus and social distancing norms. People are not hailing rides like they were just a few months ago.
This isn’t the first time Uber has transported goods. Back in 2015, it launched Uber Rush, a courier service that used drivers to deliver items from stores to people’s doors. It came from Uber’s early, broad-strokes concept of Uber Everything (yes, that was the real name) to transport, well, everything from people to food to packages to groceries and beyond.
Keeping that everything vibe going, last year Uber acquired Cornershop, a Chilean grocery delivery startup in Latin America and Canada. The deal is in regulation limbo, but it was supposed to bump up Uber’s involvement in the delivery world beyond restaurant orders through Uber Eats.
Lyft is also making drivers available for different types of paid work, like delivering medical supplies and meals for vulnerable children and seniors.