With the launch of a new service in select cities, Uber is working to position itself as a delivery option for small-business owners — and it’s pitching directly at florists.
UberRUSH launched last month in Chicago and San Francisco. The service, which has been in testing in New York City for more than a year, offers same-day delivery of products, delivered on bikes and cars by Uber couriers. BloomNet is one of the first companies to test the new service in all three cities; in promotional videos for the service, flowers are featured prominently.
Through UberRush, business owners can make “faster, cheaper, more reliable deliveries,” Uber said, in press materials. Costs range from $5 to $6 for delivery.
John Pappas of Chelsea Florist Inc. in New York is one of an undisclosed number of florists who has participated in the UberRUSH testing through BloomNet. For about a year, he’s used UberRUSH bicycle couriers for BloomNet orders, and he said the experience has been a good one.
“They usually respond very fast, within 10 minutes or so,” he said. “And in a year of testing, we only had a few returns.” In one case, a courier dropped the vase and still delivered it, even though the container was broken; BloomNet and Uber coordinated with Pappas to quickly make things right.
That story, nonetheless, probably speaks to florists’ No. 1 concern about outsourcing delivery services: How do you control for quality and customer experience?
Nic Faitos of Starbright Floral Design in New York said he is wary of delivery services, but would consider using them in an emergency. In general, he said, “they do not enhance the customer experience, and the person greeting the recipient is someone who you have no control over. Also there is no control over how your package is handled from the time it leaves your store. Too much can go wrong.”
At Ashland Addison Florist in Chicago, Bridget Carlson, AAF, agreed. “We have been hand delivering gifts for over eight decades and offer the most up-to-date delivery technology with GPS tracking, delivery confirmations…and now even photos of the items being sent to customer before the gift is delivered,” she said. “With a background-checked, personally-hired team of delivery experts combined with the knowledge of where our gifts are at all times and the confidence they are being handled with the quality and service that our brand represents, I feel confident that Ashland Addison Florist will always be able to compete.”
(Neither Faitor nor Carlson participated in the BloomNet/UberRUSH testing, though both are located in test cities.)
For his part, Pappas, who used the service only for BloomNet orders, said he’s been impressed with the Uber couriers, who represent a large demographic — from students to stay-at-home parents with some extra time. (You can read about Uber’s screening process here.) And he said the service is ideal for standard deliveries (compact arrangements, standard containers) in busy urban areas.
“There are pros and cons to everything,” he explained. “For a short, fast delivery,” it’s great. For higher ticket items, he said he relies on his own team of drivers.
Mark Nance, AAF, president of BloomNet, said the company has “received positive feedback from the participating florists,” adding that “providing a platform for florists to leverage UberRUSH, as well as testing other third party delivery services” is an example of the company’s “ongoing commitment” to florists.
Uber currently operates in 350 cities around the world, and as a USA Today story explains, the company has been “slowly growing beyond just rides.” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told a crowd at UCLA recently that he wants to “greatly expand both RUSH” and Uber Eats, a lunch and dinner delivery service, next year.
Read SAF Amelia Island 2015 speaker Nicole Leinbach Reyhle’s take on the service, and why it could fill a gap in the market.