With demand for ride-hailing plummeting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber (NYSE:UBER) is launching two new delivery services to cushion the blow.
In a blog post over the weekend, Uber announced it is rolling out Uber Direct and Uber Connect in select cities around the world.
Uber Direct builds on UberEats, its food delivery service that recently expanded into grocery and convenience store deliveries. Through Uber Direct, customers can place orders from select retailers and get them delivered contactlessly.
In New York City, Uber is testing the service with Cabinet to provide deliveries of over-the-counter medicine. It's also partnered with retailers in Portugal to deliver parcels, Australia to deliver pet supplies, and South Africa to deliver medicine. "We've heard from retailers and manufacturers around the world looking to introduce delivery through Uber, as an operationally efficient way to reach their customers or manage internal delivery needs," Uber wrote in the blog.
Uber Connect is a new feature in select cities that lets customers send packages to family and friends. The service is available in more than 25 cities in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S., Uber said. The ride-hailing company said the services will evolve over time as it learns from the pilots.
The new delivery features are an effort on the part of the tech company to alleviate some of the losses it is experiencing amid the pandemic. With millions of people sheltering in place, there's little reason to hail a ride.
Last week Uber withdrew its guidance for 2020 and announced it was taking a write-down of $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion because of the impact the pandemic is having on its minority investments. "Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it has caused for every industry in every part of the world, it is impossible to predict with precision the pandemic's cumulative impact on our future financial result," Uber said in the press release at the time.