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Uber Eats’ Walgreens Partnership Signals Ambitions Beyond Eats

When it comes to same-day delivery, Walgreens cannot be tied down. The pharmacy is available to be ordered right to customer’s doorsteps through its own desktop site and mobile app and through DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart. Now, the Illinois-based retailer is adding Uber Eats to the roster. The company announced Tuesday (June 15) that consumers can order Walgreens goods on-demand through the delivery service at 7,800 stores around the United States. Both companies have framed the partnership as a move to make the pharmacy’s wellness-centric offerings more widely accessible.

Stefanie Kruse, vice president of digital commerce and omnichannel at Walgreens, said in a statement, “Our collaboration with Uber for on-demand delivery through both Walgreens and Uber’s channels, as well as integrated vaccine scheduling, gives customers simple and easy ways to put their health and well-being needs at the forefront — which will continue to be important to them as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Similarly, Raj Beri, Uber’s head of grocery delivery, said, “By leveraging the best of what Walgreens and Uber have to offer we’re making it easier than ever for customers to prioritize their health and wellness.”

This framing targets consumers’ lingering health concerns. PYMNTS data from May show that worries about health remain the most common pandemic-related concern, with 4 in 10 consumers reporting that health is top of mind, compared to 27 percent reporting that economic issues are top of mind, and 22 percent reporting that they are primarily concerned about the pandemic’s effect of their relationships.

The news comes as, across the restaurant and grocery delivery space, companies are looking to deliver more than just food and beverages, leveraging their network of drivers to provide speedier order fulfillment than consumers would get from a typical delivery from a truck.

For instance, DoorDash has redefined itself as “a technology company that connects people with the best in their cities.” The company’s Who We Are page notes, “We started by facilitating door-to-door delivery, but we see this as just the beginning of connecting people with possibility — easier evenings, happier days, bigger savings accounts, wider nets and stronger communities.” The company’s intentions clearly go well beyond meal delivery.

Additionally, while Instacart continues to describe itself as the “leading online grocery platform in North America,” it goes on to say that it “offer[s] same-day delivery and pickup services to bring fresh groceries and everyday essentials to busy people and families across the U.S. and Canada.” The inclusion of the expansive “everyday essentials” leaves considerable wiggle room for Instacart to continue adding retailers outside of the grocery space to the platform.

Notably, as competitors rework their language to allow more room to grow beyond food, Uber Eats continues to reiterate the promise of its name. The app is available under the name Uber Eats: Food Delivery, and the slogan remains “Local restaurants to your door.” Still, the service is partnering with a range of non-food businesses, including prescription delivery firm Nimble and convenience store goods delivery company GoPuff. In fact, categories available through Uber Eats’ marketplace include Convenience, Pharmacy and Retail.

“From on-demand delivery of essentials to hassle-free vaccine scheduling all at the touch of a button,” said Beri in his statement, “we’re focused on eliminating barriers that burden customers’ everyday life, helping them go anywhere and get anything instantly.”

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