Uber Eats is in it for the long haul.
The third-party food delivery platform on Tuesday launched a service that will deliver food from restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami to customers anywhere in the lower 48 states — for free. The new offering, Nationwide shipping, will use FedEx carrier services.
In-app screenshots of the new service that were obtained by Modern Shipper show the Nationwide shipping option appearing on the Uber Eats (NYSE: UBER) homepage. From there, the ordering process is the same as a typical local order. Within the Nationwide Shipping tab, customers select their merchant, add items to their cart and check out through the app.
Once the order is placed, customers will receive an email from FedEx with tracking information. Screenshots indicated that an order traveling from Los Angeles to New York City would arrive within a week. However, they also showed that some items may be available at a lower cost through local delivery, which could mean that nationwide shipping costs are added to the cost of the food.
Uber Eats couriers will have no involvement in the deliveries. Instead, merchants themselves package and ship the items through FedEx, using a shipping label provided by Uber Eats.
Believe it or not, Uber Eats isn’t the first food delivery app to try shipping nationally. Rival DoorDash beat it to the punch when it launched its own Nationwide Shipping service in November. Like Uber’s offering, shipping is free, and orders are delivered in two to four days on average.
It’s still unclear whether Nationwide Shipping has been a success for DoorDash. But there are indicators that a growing market exists for this type of service.
New York City-based startup Goldbelly pioneered the model of delivering food from local restaurants nationwide. Launched nine years ago, Goldbelly began to have success with the model during the pandemic, adding 1 million new customers and growing sales 300% between 2019 and 2020.
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That success drove investors into Goldbelly’s court. In May 2021, it raised $100 million in a series C funding round led by Spectrum Equity with participation from Intel Capital. Today, the company works with more than 1,000 restaurants across all 50 states and is partnered with famous restaurateurs like Wolfgang Puck, David Chang and Marcus Samuelsson.
Though it took a while to get off the ground, Goldbelly has shown that a nationwide food delivery model can work. But it remains to be seen whether customers will turn to apps like Uber Eats, which has built itself on local deliveries, to satisfy those long-distance cravings.