Uber Eats is morphing into a ‘virtual mall’, plans to add apparel and more to the app

  • The Uber Eats app is evolving into a virtual mall, with more non-food items debuting on the platform.
  • Next is a line of women’s comfort wear. 
  • It recently introduced jewellery and perfume.
  • Uber plans to enhance distribution by partnering with small brands in the country, which can double up as warehouse sites.
  • By the end of March 2023, it plans to have 37 distribution sites.

Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats in South Africa, is steadily evolving into a virtual mall, allowing users to for shop non-food items for delivery in as little as 30 minutes.

The app plans to make clothing purchases available on its platform, eliminating days of waiting for a package, as is typically the case for traditional online fashion retailers.

Cikida Gcali-Mabusela, new verticals head for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, said one of the delivery service’s biggest ambitions is to become the virtual mall of the future.

“We’re bringing women’s comfort wear, we’re looking into apparel, but we also want to expand more into verticals such as books, stationery, ’cause we find that those do really well. Herbs, pharmacies, those do very well,” Gcali-Mabusela said.

The app already has a number of shopper categories unrelated to food, where it sells books, medicines, and perfumes. Last month, it clinched a deal with DJ Zinhle to make her line of jewellery products, ERA by DJ Zinhle, available for purchase.

READ: Uber Eats just struck a deal with DJ Zinhle to list her jewellery line on the app | Businessinsider

“Our modus operandi this year is ‘get anything that matters’,” Gcali-Mabusela said.

“Last year, we were focusing on grocery, convenience and liquor, and speciality foods. This year, we’re saying ‘any and everything that a person would want in 30 minutes’,” she said.

In other markets in sub-Saharan Africa, the app offers more unconventional categories, such as gas deliveries to homes in Kenya and traditional herbs.

While the company is looking at enhancing its distribution models for the app, it will still maintain its stance as a third-party aggregator, Gcali-Mabusela said.

Earlier this year, Uber Eats piloted a warehouse model where it set up a distribution centre and stocked products from four brands, Masodi Organics, Love Kinks, Mizaza, and flowers.

“We are maintaining our stance as a third-party aggregator, giving people access to a marketplace where they are,” Gcali-Mabusela said.

“Instead of thinking around driving more perfumes across the whole of South Africa, what we are thinking is tapping into the small business market, where people are already retailing perfumes, and then using them as a point of distribution for last-mile delivery,” she said.

The app is working with smaller brands in the country, which double up as Uber Eats’ distribution partner. It currently has three distribution sites in the country, all situated in Cape Town, and aims to have nine across Cape Town and Johannesburg by the end of September.

By the end of the first quarter of 2023, Uber Eats plans to have a total of 37 distribution sites across the major parts of the country.

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