Uber Brings Back Uber Offers As ‘Visa Local Offers’

Even if consumers don't take an Uber to their shopping destination, they can still receive a discount on future rides for paying with their Visa card at participating merchants.

Uber has reintroduced its Uber Offers program as Visa Local Offers, allowing users to get 10 percent back on Uber rides for using the Visa card linked to their Uber account at select local merchants — a move that both deepens the tie between brick-and-mortars and on-demand providers and stands to boost foot traffic to local businesses.

The program offers clear benefits for Uber, local businesses, and Visa: Businesses boost discovery through Uber’s vast user base; Uber stands to increase rides by betting that the resulting 10 percent discount will encourage riders to choose Uber over a competitor; and Visa gets cardholders to spend more at both businesses and on Uber rides in order to unlock the promotion.

“You don’t even have to Uber to the location,” Uber said in a statement. “Just use your card around town like you usually do.”

Uber’s Visa Local Offers merchants for August include Walgreens, Denny’s, Petco, and others.

On-Demand Boosts Brick-And-Mortar

In addition to being a potential driver for local store visits, the program looks likely to appeal to brands due to the “captive audience” element: When people are on a car ride, they can’t get up and leave, and they are (most likely) looking at their smartphones. Showing them participating merchants and offers then — as Uber does — makes them more likely to be responsive, especially considering that the offer is going to translate to a discount for an app they (clearly) already use.

The main question after the reintroduction of the program might be this: Can local SMBs — who live and die by local foot traffic even more than major chains with a web presence — participate as much as the Walgreens of the world? And, if they do, will it make a significant difference in the age of competing with Amazon?

Uber didn’t respond to a request to comment at this time. But promotions of this variety remain a smart bet for retailers looking for a low-cost way to further bridge the online and offline worlds — even as the extent of the impact on physical sales remains to be seen.

In any case, as brands realize the local discovery advantages conferred by on-demand services, a great deal more of these “pay to play” offer partnerships are likely to emerge. It is also continued reminder that Uber’s transformation from an on-demand app to a full-fledged marketing platform has finally taken place — and the company will continue to invest its energy there in the future.