Uber gets in the holiday spirit with new platform upgrades

Just in time for the holidays, one of the giants of the gig economy has come up with a list of new features – it’s worth checking twice.

Uber (NYSE: UBER) on Monday released a series of upgrades to its ridesharing and delivery platforms, all geared towards vacation shopping, shipping and travel. New features include a dedicated holiday shop on Uber Eats and a revamped version of its same-day delivery service Uber Connect.

“This year, whatever the holiday season looks like for you and your family, Uber is here to help you get anywhere and get anything — whether you’re traveling, hosting or sending gifts,” Sundeep Jain wrote in one written blog post. the company’s chief product officer.

The new Holiday Shop on Uber Eats offers a wide range of food and drinks such as chocolates, candy canes and coffee – typical tariffs for the app. But customers also have the option to shop for groceries at stores like Albertsons and convenience items from retailers like Walgreens.

An in-app screenshot of the new Holiday Shop on Uber Eats. (Photo: Uber)

The platform is also making it easier to find alcohol items by increasing choice for users and adding a new advanced search feature that allows them to shop from more retailers at once, compare prices and see delivery times.

And now customers can call Uber to do the legwork of finding elusive items. The new Custom Orders feature allows users to request very specific items and the platform will find them on its own.

But the list of new features goes on. In addition to shopping, Uber placed great emphasis on shipping.

For example, Uber Eats customers now have the option to “gift” any order to friends or family. Users can order from retailers and restaurants in over 10,000 cities worldwide and select “Give a Gift” at checkout. Uber then sends a custom message and tracking information to the recipient’s phone.

The company also made some major changes to Uber Connect, its same-day local shipping platform. Customers can use the service to send gifts or holiday treats across town, with new features including the ability to send multiple packages at once, ship to different destinations, and confirm arrival with proof of delivery.

An in-app screenshot of the Uber Connect platform. (Photo: Uber)

Additionally, Uber expanded its mobility platform to make vacation travel easier.

For example, Uber Travel — a feature that launched this spring — is now available in over 10,000 cities worldwide, including all major cities in the US and Canada. The service organizes customers’ hotel, flight and restaurant reservations by linking itineraries from email accounts.

The company also built on its Uber Explore and Uber Charter services. Explore, which helps customers find tourist attractions, events and local restaurants, is now partnering with OpenTable and Viator to add more experiences, while Charter, a large excursion booking service, has expanded to over 20 major U.S. cities.

The mobility updates are nothing to scoff at, but it’s the delivery business that’s really gotten an overhaul.

Watch: A smart solution for local delivery

According to Uber’s third-quarter 2022 earnings report, the delivery segment reported revenue of $2.77 billion, gross bookings of $13.68 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $181 million. all record highs, but all lagged behind the company’s strength in mobility and ridesharing.

Uber has placed great emphasis on growing its delivery segment — and Uber Eats in particular — in recent years, adding new verticals like groceries and convenience, and ordering options like scheduled delivery, nationwide shipping, and after-hours orders. This new list of updates continues that focus.

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