At Uber, disruption isn’t novelty, it’s just business as usual. A few days ago, the wildly popular ridesharing platform launched UberCARGO, a program designed to help Hong Kong customers move house, transport large items and deal with business logistics – minus the sky-high costs associated with traditional delivery models.
“The same cashless and convenient service you have grown to love through UberBLACK and UberTAXI is now available for all your moving and delivery needs, Uber wrote on its blog in January 2015. “Whether you’re going cycling in Dragon’s Back, moving a mattress to a new house, riding with a large pet, or sending items to a friend, UberCARGO is for you. If you own a business, UberCARGO provides an easy way to cover on-demand logistical needs without complicated & costly delivery arrangements.”
Customers using UberCARGO can either choose to ride alongside their items or transport goods to third-parties and track location using an app. The service also includes the option to ask for assistance when it comes to loading and unloading heavy items.
Although UberCARGO is currently limited to Hong Kong, the startup’s legacy of trialling new initiatives in single cities could mean that other markets will follow suit with such disruption. According to a January 2015 Techcrunch report, the company rolled out a bike courier service called UberRUSH in New York last year and has previously experimented with logistics via UberMOVERS, an Atlanta-based service aimed at assisting university students move into college dorms.
Despite criticism surrounding its security procedures, Uber’s record of early adoption has seen its global footprint go from strength to strength. The company has a presence in over 200 cities worldwide and raised $1.2 billion during a December 2014 funding round. Here are three of the company’s golden rules for dizzying growth.
Customers, not businesses, are responsible for disrupting markets
We might be living in the age of the startup but Uber knows that it takes more than Silicon Valley shoptalk to turn a market on its head. By dispatching a cab with the click of a smartphone button – complete with GPS location, arrival time and driver rating – it literally puts the experience of ordering a taxi in the palm of consumer’s hands. It’s also altered the course of a practice that’s existed for over a hundred years.
Bake scalability into your business model
Although Uber owes its early reputation to the tech community that embraced its services in San Francisco, its series of city-by-city launches are responsible for its growth. But rather than buying vehicles or employing cab operators, the startup simply connects users to drivers that are already aware of local regulations, a strategy that bypasses overheads and allows it to scale fast.
Privacy is a prerequisite for customer loyalty
From reports that an Uber employee had looked into the travel history of a reporter to concerns about real-time tracking tool God View, Uber’s liberal use of data has put its credibility at risk. In November 2014, The Verge reported that the ridesharing platform had hired Harriet Pearson, former Head of Privacy at IBM to audit its procedures and despite its failure to announce its findings, it’s a step in the right direction.
Uber’s trajectory stems from a track record of disruption in markets to drive growth. What do you believe are the most powerful elements of the startup’s strategy and what barriers do you think it needs to overcome?