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Uber branches out into free grocery delivery with no minimum spend

Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Ocado are set to become Uber’s latest target after it unveiled a new grocery delivery service in the US that carries no fee.

The Corner Store is available as an option on the main smartphone app with an inventory of over 100 items and it is currently being rolled as an “experiment” that is limited to customers in Washington DC.

It works in a similar way to Uber in that a driver delivers the goods and no cash changes hands as the transaction is handled through the same account that taxis are reserved.

Uber is only planning to run the experiment for a “few weeks” though this would seem to depend on how successful it is, the blog post adding “the more your love it, the more likely it will last”.

The Corner Store’s delivery zone covers two areas of Washington DC and it is available between 09:00 and 21:00 EST with two categories of goods on offer that don’t include any fresh food products. Uber is inviting customers of the service to make suggestions for other products that could be delivered and there is no minimum purchase meaning that a chocolate bar priced at $1 [60p] could be bought and delivered free-of-charge.

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There is no indication yet as to whether it plans to expand the service in the US or indeed over the pond in the UK, and analysts are already questioning how feasible the service actually is.

"On average, Uber's price points are on a par with what you would find in a physical store such as Walgreens, so what it is trying to do is take the pricing equation out of it from the shopper's perspective,” Stephen Mader, director of digital retail at Kantar consultancy, told the BBC. "But long-term this is most likely not going to be economically feasible unless Uber starts to figure out other ways to monetise this, through adding delivery fees or charging advertising fees to brands that take part in the programme."

Amazon and Google both offer same-day deliveries across a number of US cities and you have to feel that it won’t be long until the online shopping giants hit the UK to lay down the gauntlet to the likes of Tesco and Sainsburys.