Two years after introducing grocery delivery to Uber Eats, the platform just put out its “most comprehensive update yet.”
Uber Eats on Thursday revealed several new features it plans to add to its grocery delivery service in the coming weeks, including an option for customers to schedule deliveries from stores that are closed. Other new features include live order tracking and an improved system for offering product replacements, Uber said in a blog post.
“Starting next week in select cities, and rolling out throughout the summer, US consumers will begin to see brand new features that will make grocery shopping with Uber Eats more convenient, intuitive, and reliable than ever before,” the company wrote.
Perhaps the biggest update to the app’s grocery delivery experience is the ability for customers to order after hours. If a store is closed, customers would still be able to shop and have their order delivered the following day during a delivery window of their choice.
Uber also updated its order tracking system to go beyond the delivery route. Now, customers will be able to follow along in real time as each item is scanned and bagged at the store. The platform was also modified to make it easier for customers to find replacement items for out-of-stock products, and they can even order items sold by weight.
In a Thursday press conference, Therese Lim, Uber’s senior director of new verticals and grocery product, said that Uber workers themselves will begin picking grocery orders. That’s a move away from the company’s previous model, which let workers from Cornershop do the picking. Uber acquired Cornershop in full in June 2021.
For a long time, Uber Eats and the company’s delivery segment were something of a leaking bucket for Uber. But Uber Eats appears to have resolved that issue with new verticals like grocery that are driving users to the platform. In its most recent earnings report in May, Uber said the delivery segment turned in a record quarter for gross bookings.
Watch: The challenges and opportunities of 2-day grocery delivery
“New verticals (like grocery, convenience and alcohol) represent not only an opportunity to increase wallet share with our existing customers but also to increase engagement and loyalty with our platform,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in prepared remarks. “New verticals users are more loyal and have 1.4x the monthly order frequency of those who only order from restaurants.”
Later in the month, Uber doubled down on grocery. It launched driverless grocery delivery with robots in Santa Monica through a partnership with Motional, and it began piloting on-demand deliveries with Grocery Outlet. Those moves built on Uber’s existing partnership with Albertsons, which recently expanded to provide on-demand delivery from over 1,200 stores.
“We feel pretty good about being able to just unlock this new use case with our existing consumer and earner base,” said Oskar Hjertonsson, global head of Uber’s grocery and new verticals business, during the press conference. “We definitely consider this a very large business opportunity.”