August 21, 2014, 4:46 PM

Ride-share service Uber tiptoes into e-commerce

The service turning the cab industry on its head is running a limited-time experiment in Washington, D.C., that allows consumers to have grocery items delivered by Uber drivers.

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Uber, the company that links riders with drivers and is turning the cab industry on its head, is testing the e-commerce waters with a limited-time, limited-audience rollout of a service that allows Uber users to order more than 100 grocery items through its mobile app.

Right now, the test is only available to a limited number of riders in Washington, D.C. Items available for delivery include Benadryl, Johnson’s Baby Oil, AXE Anarchy Revitalizing Shower Gel, Doritos, DayQuil Cold & Flu, Pepto-Bismol, condoms and envelopes. There is no delivery charge.

The experiment, called Corner Store, will run for the next few weeks at least, the company says. Users of its mobile app toggle over to the item delivery service—if available to them—and set a delivery location. The app will let the user know what’s available for pick up via text messages. Once the order is placed, a driver will call the user to confirm. The service is operating on weekdays only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The prices listed on Uber are higher than comparable e-commerce sites. For example, a 160 mg bottle of Infant’s Tylenol will cost consumers $8.00, while Target.com has the same product listed for $5.69 and Walgreens.com has it listed for $5.79.

The delivery service is another way Uber is trying to expand its original business model. The company recently announced UberRUSH, a courier service in New York City, and Uber Movers, a moving service.

Several big-name e-retailers—Amazon.com Inc. and Google—have been experimenting with grocery delivery with mixed success. 

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