General Merchandise/HBC

Can Uber 'Corner' the C-Store Market?

Testing convenience store merchandise delivery service concept in D.C.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Uber, a vehicle-for-hire and rideshare service that operates via mobile app, has launched an on-demand product delivery service in Washington D.C., called Corner Store, the company announced on its blog.

Uber Corner Store (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

The list of merchandise available for delivery includes convenience store items such as candy, diapers, over-the-counter medicines, toothpaste, condoms, feminine products, household items and more.

The candy assortment is limited, and it does not currently offer other convenience store staples such as snacks, food or beverages.

"Bringing the neighborhood shop to your doorstep," the blog promoted. "Chili dogs without heartburn relief? A playdate without diapers? Sundress weather without a razor in sight? Starting Aug. 19, we're putting these problems in the past with our latest experiment from the Uber Garage."

Another tagline: "The convenience you love, the products you need now."

"No need to race to the store after a long day at the office--now you can request allergy medicine, diapers, toothpaste and over 100 other items through the Uber app. This limited-time-only experiment will run for a few weeks--but the more you love it, the more likely it will last."

Starting Aug. 19, Corner Store will be available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to a select number of Uber DC riders within a limited area. It may offer extend hours of operation to cover late nights and weekends, the San Francisco-based company said.

The comparisons between Uber's strategy and convenience stores has not lost on Michael Debnar, the leader of Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.'s Innovation Team, 7-Ventures LLC. At VentureBeat's recent GrowthBeat 2014 event in San Francisco, Debnar compared 7-Eleven to Uber.

"I am a huge fan of two-sided marketplaces--you have on the one side a bunch of cars, and you have on the other side a bunch of people who need a car, and [Uber is] just the glue," he said. "We have close to 8,500 stores in United States. We can be that glue for a lot of things. For example, we have Amazon lockers in some of our stores, [and] for example KeyMe is a company we have in our stores. We can actually become this two-side marketplace just because we have a box that's everywhere, and we can connect people who need stuff to companies and services."

And the "Corner Store" name, of course, is already firmly established in the convenience store industry as the identity of San Antonio-based CST Brands Inc.'s retail outlets in the United States.

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