With Uber ‘Offers,’ Merchants Share The Ride With On-Demand Customers

The program, which Uber has tested quietly since last year, could be a major breakthrough for brick-and-mortars.

Uber is bringing its “Uber Offers” — a program that lets merchants pay for a consumer’s next ride if they make a purchase — into the mainstream through a Mother’s Day partnership with ProFlowers.

Here’s how it works: Currently, while users are on a ride, they will see a “We love mom, too. Tap to make her day” banner. Clicking leads to an offer to buy flowers from and have them delivered by 5/6 in order to get a statement credit of up to $20 on a future Uber ride, provided that both the flowers and the trip are paid for with a Visa credit card.

Buying Business

The concept of being able to pay for a user’s ride in exchange for their patronage has huge ramifications for both Uber and businesses — and particularly brick-and-mortar retailers.

Why? Essentially, it allows physical locations to literally pay for a consumer to come to their store and purchase something. This closes the loop between a consumer discovering a business, traveling to it (via Uber), and buying something while there. In addition to driving foot traffic to the store in exchange for a sponsored reward, it also makes it likely that the store will drum up repeat business.

According to Tech Crunch, which first reported the news, Uber quietly began testing Offers late last year, working with Visa-owned TrialPay. Participating brick-and-mortar chains included Shake Shack, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Whole Foods.

In addition to being a potential driver for local store visits, the program looks likely to appeal to brands of all stripes 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. Targeting them with an offer then — as Uber does — makes them more likely to be responsive, especially considering that the offer is going to translate to ride credit for an app they (clearly) already use.

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 a sign that Uber’s transformation from an on-demand app to a full-fledged marketing platform — discussed for several years — has finally taken place.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.