Uber is kicking it up a notch in Toronto with the launch of its on-demand food delivery service UberEATS.
It’s part of a new strategy by the ride-sharing service to be much more than that, a strategy that could eventually see it offering courier services and merchandise delivery as well.
Starting today, Toronto Uber users will be able to order from a menu that changes daily, and have it delivered using the ride-sharing service’s network of drivers.
The service will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and promises to deliver “in 10 minutes or less” within the downtown Toronto coverage area.
The inaugural menu features a selection of items from Bar Buca; tomorrow it will feature a chicken sandwich from California Sandwiches and a chicken slaw salad from Delica Kitchen.
The Uber site mentions P&L Burger, Fresh and Khao San Road as potential future restaurants as well.
Uber first tested a food delivery service in Barcelona and Los Angeles, and is now running the program in Chicago and New York.
It’s just one element of a new strategy to expand the company from transporting people to transporting goods as well.
The company launched a courier service in New York City last month. Uber RUSH allows the app’s users to have small packages delivered across much of Manhattan, for $15 to $30 per delivery, depending on distance.
According to TechCrunch, Uber is also developing a merchant delivery program, and is in talks with some 400 retailers and brands, including Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss.
“Uber is a technology company, and innovation is what we do,” a spokesman told The Guardian.
“It’s in our DNA. We are always exploring different on-demand services and UberEats is one example of the innovative potential of our technology. UberEats shows how technology is creating convenience and choice but more importantly encouraging economic growth through innovation.”
In Canada, as in many places, its paid driver service UberX has run into trouble with municipal authorities who see it as a violation of taxi licencing by-laws. Uber counters it’s not a ride-sharing company, but an app that connects drivers with riders.
In Montreal, some 40 Uber cars had been seized as of last month. Toronto police launched a crackdown on UberX drivers earlier this year, with undercover officers running stings that resulted in 22 charges being laid.
Toronto has filed a legal motion to stop the company from operating in the city.
UberX drivers are also seeing tensions with cab drivers and taxi companies, who see them as unlicensed, and therefore unfair, competition.