Uber’s Next Big Move Into Retail: In-Car Shopping

Man driving a car

By Tricia McKinnon

Uber wants to make your next trip to the airport a better experience with in-car shopping.  Last year Cargo, a startup, signed a deal to be Uber’s exclusive in-car commerce provider. Then last week Uber and Cargo expanded their partnership by launching an app that allows riders to purchase from a marketplace of goods during their Uber trip.  Here’s how the in-car shopping service works:

1. Drivers need to have the Cargo Box installed in their car. The box is like a mini vending machine, accept that it does not take money directly and it is placed on the car’s central console. It contains a variety of convenience store products including snacks, gum and phone chargers that customers can purchase while on their Uber trip. 

2. When using the Cargo app, customers scan the driver’s Cargo Box QR code which then allows the customer to access Cargo’s offerings (the app allows Uber to offer customers a broader selection of items for sale than what is available in the car).

3. When a customer makes an in-ride purchase they receive 10% back which they can use towards a future ride or purchase through Cargo.

4. The driver receives $1 per purchase and 25% of the value of the order.

5. Customers can only make a purchase during their Uber ride since the app only works during an Uber trip.

Some of the merchandise customers can purchase include: Air Pods, the Nintendo Switch and the Amazon Echo.  Larger items are shipped to the customer’s home within two to five days of purchase.  Additionally customers can spend $5.00 or $10.00 to purchase and download a movie which is a plus for customers that have a long ride.  Speaking about the service Uber said: “you never know what you’ll need when you’re on the move.  An energy boost on your way to a meeting, a phone charger when you’re down to 7 percent or a snack at the end of the night. Your time in an Uber is often the only chance you have to refuel and recharge.”

Since Cargo launched its service back in 2017, 7,000 drivers have made more than $1,000,000 through the service. Approximately 30,000 drivers already have Cargo’s consoles installed in their cars. One of the reasons for launching a shopping app is because customer feedback showed that customers prefer to have a central place where they can view all of their purchases and the app makes payment easier as customers have the option of paying through a variety of platforms including Android Pay and PayPal. 


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