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Your Guide to Uber Direct: The New Retail Delivery Service

Uber Direct is a response to customer demand, helping users get medication, pet supplies, and packages delivered. Learn about it here.

If you’re an Uber customer, you’ve probably heard about the company’s new direct delivery service called Uber Direct.

But what is it, exactly? And how does it work?

In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions and give you a first-hand look at how the new service works for customers and drivers alike.

Let’s dive right in.

What Is Uber Direct?

Uber Direct is a package delivery service that allows customers to have their packages delivered through the Uber app.

It works as an off-shoot from the Uber Eats platform.

Instead of only delivering food and grocery items, the Direct program allows customers to get Uber drivers to deliver other types of packages to needed destinations.

Uber provides retailers an API system to connect their ordering systems into the Uber Eats network.

The program came about as a direct response to the need to keep people at home when COVID broke out in the spring of 2020.

Uber, a San Francisco-based company, saw the need for it after its passenger services went downhill quickly.

Putting its drivers to work delivering packages to customers’ homes made sense.

It helped drivers stay in business and helped customers get needed supplies without leaving home.

After a massive drop in ride-hailing requests, these drivers can now turn to Uber Direct requests for new opportunities to earn.

How Does Uber Direct Work?

Uber Direct works similarly to how uberPOOL or UberX work.

You open the Uber app, input your pickup location and destination address, and select Uber Direct as your mode of transportation.

From there, you’ll see whether available drivers in your area are currently logged into the Uber Direct platform.

Once you start the trip, your chosen driver will pick up your package.

Then, they’ll drop it off where you want it delivered.

The cost of this service is generally cheaper than traditional shipping methods like UPS or FedEx.

What Items Can You Order on Uber Direct?

Uber remains a bit vague about the types of items that retailers can deliver to customers through the Uber Direct platform.

The main qualifiers for whether an item fits the program include the following.

  • A package can’t exceed 50 pounds
  • Each package needs to fit within a standard car that most Uber drivers use

Here’s a list of some of the most common packages delivered from retailers to customers.

  • Documents or mail (no larger than a manila envelope)
  • Clothing and accessories
  • Auto parts
  • Small equipment
  • Alcohol delivery
  • Toys and games
  • Small home appliances

Uber is far more specific about some of the items that retailers can’t send via its Direct program.

  • Illegal items
  • Stolen goods
  • Fragile items
  • Controlled substances
  • Sexual aids
  • Hazardous items, such as explosives, weapons, or flammable paints
  • Money or gift cards

How Is Uber Direct Different Than Uber Connect?

Uber Direct allows people to get items delivered from retailers.

Think of it as you do with DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub.

However, instead of getting food delivered from your local restaurant or grocery store, you’re getting items delivered from local retailers.

On the other hand, you can use the peer-to-peer nature of Uber Connect to send personal deliveries or care packages to your friends and family.

It offers same-day delivery options when you need to get something to a loved one immediately.

Many people use Uber Connect to send items such as a board game, extra tissue or toilet paper, or a care package.

vector graphic showing an Uber Connect vehicle in front of packages in a city

Why Use Uber Direct?

Using Uber Direct makes it convenient when you can’t get out of the house to pick up your needed supplies.

The advantages to using Uber Direct include the following.

  • There’s no need to leave home
  • You can avoid getting around others when concerned about social distancing
  • Pass vehicle wear and tear costs to your Uber driver

One potential disadvantage of using this newer Uber service is that you may end up paying a higher premium on each item you get delivered.

Where Is Uber Direct Available?

Uber hasn’t released an official list of where Uber Direct expanded after its initial press release in the spring of 2020.

It only tells us that it will expand the service over time into select cities already equipped with the Uber Eats platform.

When the Direct program began, it started using a partnership with Cabinet, an online pharmacy, in New York City.

Using Uber Direct, Uber customers can use the Uber app to place their orders for their over-the-counter medications.

An Uber driver receives the order, picks up the package, and delivers it to the customer.

Uber also started using partnerships with Greencross in Australia and CTT in Portugal.

Greencross helps deliver pet supplies, and CTT delivers various types of parcels.

The program also started with medication deliveries in South Africa.

Pay attention to this page to see if Uber updates its Uber Direct availability in the future.

Will Uber Direct Continue After the Coronavirus Pandemic Ends?

It doesn’t appear that Uber has any intentions to stop offering Uber Direct after the pandemic ends.

It’s still actively promoting the program to its drivers, allowing them to make money doing retail deliveries.

It only makes sense that Uber will continue enlarging its market share in this niche.

How Much Does Uber Direct Cost?

Again, there isn’t a lot of public information about how much Uber Direct costs — and pricing may change in the future as the pilot ends.

Changes are especially likely in South Africa since Uber Direct deliveries are currently being sponsored.

vector graphic illustrating different elements of how much does Uber cost

However, it does appear that the platform will follow a similar fee structure to Uber Eats.

This means that you can expect a set delivery fee, with potential surge pricing during times of high demand, as well as a varying service fee and a small cart fee when applicable.

Tipping your driver 15% or more is custom across all Uber services, so don’t forget to consider gratuity when you make your first Direct request.

How to Order Through Uber Direct

If you’re experienced with using Uber rideshare services or Uber Eats, then you’ll discover that ordering via Uber Direct offers a similar experience.

  • Open up your Uber app
  • Look for Uber Direct
  • Tap Uber Direct to open up that section of the app
  • Find the retailer you want to order from
  • Look through the items offered by that retailer on the app
  • Make your selections
  • Look at the cost, and if acceptable to you, then finalize the order
  • Wait for your Uber driver to deliver your order to you

What Does Uber Direct Mean for Uber Drivers?

Uber Direct offers an additional revenue stream for any Uber driver who decides to use the program.

It’s not mandatory to join the Uber Direct platform.

Why Drive for Uber Direct?

All UberX drivers are eligible to drive for Uber Direct, so if you’re an active rideshare driver for the brand, this delivery service can be your new earning opportunity.

If you’re in a market that offers Direct, you just need to head to the “Driver Preferences” section in your Uber Driver app to toggle on Uber Direct trips.

Once Direct trips are on, requests may start coming through.

These requests will look a lot like Uber Eats requests, as you’ll need to pick up orders from a retailer or manufacturer, then drive to your customer’s location for a drop-off.

Because you’ll be delivering necessary supplies, your Direct trips are considered an essential service.

If required by law for essential workers in your area, you may still be required to carry an essential services letter (provided by Uber) and a photo ID as you fulfill requests.

Make sure to take these items when you’re outside of your vehicle, as well.

Like all Uber drivers, Direct drivers in high-risk areas for COVID-19 will have access to sanitizing supplies — such as disinfectant sprays and the Uber mask policy — while they last.

How Much Do Drivers Earn From Uber Direct?

As an Uber driver, you can expect to earn a similar amount as UberX or Uber Eats trips.

It’s difficult to tell you an exact amount because it depends on how far you must drive and how long each trip takes you to complete.

Adding Uber Direct to your income opportunities on the Uber app should help you earn more money.

Instead of waiting during slow times for Uber rideshare passengers or food deliveries, you should see additional Uber Direct opportunities show up for you.

Access the Deliveries You Need

Now more than ever, home deliveries are booming across industries.

Uber Direct has turned this delivery boom into a new opportunity for customers to access essential goods, as well as for drivers to earn more money.

vector graphic showing an uber direct driver holding a box and getting into a vehicle labeled uber direct

Through this innovative service, Uber is broadening its reach even further and doing more to help local businesses, drivers, and customers meet their goals.

Although the future of this service is uncertain for the time being, it certainly is a step toward greater convenience for all.

As the demand for delivery continues to rise, Amazon is another company that’s stepping up to the plate.

As it takes on the challenge of meeting demand, it (like Uber) is turning to independent contractors to fulfill orders — both for essential supplies and non-essential goods.

If Uber Direct hasn’t landed in your city yet, but you want to start earning now, learn how you can become an Amazon Flex driver today.

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