Uber is teaming up with Cargo, an online retailer, to create an app for selling products to Uber riders. It's being described as SkyMall, but for Uber. I would have to disagree. And if this metaphor is guiding the beliefs of how this will impact their users' experience, then they may not have the full picture.
For those of you who don't know, SkyMall is a shopping catalogue that is (was?) available in airplane seat pockets. It contained an assortment of products from multiple retailers all housed in a single catalogue. They offered everything from full size replicas of King Tuts sarcophagus to cat heating pads. It was a great idea at the time when the internet wasn't what it is today. If you wanted to buy something, then you needed to mail a check or call a customer service number.
Now this is why the Cargo-Uber is not the same.
1.Uber drivers are encouraged to sell products to passengers during their rides
2.Uber drivers get a percentage (about 25%) for every) sell
3.Uber drivers are going to charge for things they once offered for free to riders
The question is: will this harm Uber?
Some say no because there is a potential demand to be filled. People may want to purchase small items like gum, snacks, water, phone charger, etc. Uber is also incentivizing riders to buy from the app by offering rewards for purchases, like 10% off a future ride for example. A benefit to Uber drivers is that now they have the opportunity to generate a new source of income. This of course is good for Uber because it will attract more drivers as well.
On the other hand, some say yes this will harm Uber. One of the appeals for riders is the free water and snacks they often are offered, along with free charging ports for phones. Now riders are going to have to pay for them.
Since drivers earn a percentage of all app sales, some may pressure riders to purchase items which could make their riding experience uncomfortable. Riders might purchase small items because they feel pressured and decide to use a different rideshare company. This can also affect driver's ratings, which determines if they should be deactivated (i.e. fired). This could greatly deter drivers from taking the chance of receiving low ratings. Also, Uber has added a new feature to their premium service vehicles that allows riders to choose the level of conversation they would like in the vehicle with 'Quiet Mode' as an option. I predict more riders are going to start using this option to avoid receiving sales pitches, even if it costs more.
Overall, I say it's more like a timeshare sales pitch. Attract with a reward, then try to get you to buy within the allotted agreed upon time (i.e the time it takes to get from pick up to drop off locations). Uber should gather more feedback from both drivers and riders in terms of both explicit and behavioral forms to determine whether this will actually be a benefit. Maybe Uber should indicate on their app which drivers are also Cargo pushers and allow riders to choose if they want to ride with them. Uber could potentially offer a discount just for choosing to ride with those drivers, and then provide further rewards for purchases.
If you are an Uber driver, how do you feel about selling items to riders?
If you are an Uber rider, how do you feel about the purchasing pressure?
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