Be it DoorDash, Lyft, or Bolt, on-demand delivery services are undoubtedly having their moment. What if beauty brands could piggyback on the ultra-flexible and fast services such companies offer and maybe deliver dinner with a side of blush?
The Beauty on Demand Shop
After acquiring Postmates Unlimited, a loyalty programme that offers unlimited deliveries for a monthly fee, ride-hailing app Uber is now providing an updated service on the menu for Los Angeles-based subscribers. Enter the pandemic-accelerated world of on-demand beauty products. Featuring cult indie brands like Furtuna Skin, Summer Fridays and Corpus Naturals, the app is offering a bundle of 18 products curated by beauty experts—delivered straight to the consumers’ doorstep for a price of $375 (£275).
Termed ‘Beauty on Demand’, the service follows Uber’s vision of broadening out from its origins as a ride-sharing app. Part of the company’s strategy is to build customer loyalty by doubling as a delivery service. “In the post-lockdown landscape, service has become an overriding priority,” said Julie Kim, Postmates’ global head of membership. In an interview with Vogue Business, Kim highlighted how brands are increasingly investing in mechanisms and solutions to ensure reliability and convenience for their customers.
Beauty on Demand, therefore, follows the launch of Uber Direct—a project which builds upon Uber Eats’ expansion into grocery and convenience store delivery. The white label solution essentially allows the company to partner with fashion and beauty brands to fulfill deliveries that originate on the companies’ own websites or apps. “Uber Direct is a great tool for retailers who want an operationally efficient way to reach their customers,” Kim added. “Anybody who has an e-commerce mechanism can basically utilise our backend technology to enable same-day service.”
However, this isn’t Uber’s first maneuver into the beauty industry. In May 2021, the Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) became the first beauty company to partner with Uber Eats to fulfill deliveries in the US. Available across 60 store locations, customers can presently order ELC-owned brands like Origins and Jo Malone London through the Uber app. Last month, the company also partnered with Dr. Barbara Sturm to provide Hollywood-approved skincare on-demand for consumers. LA-based members of Uber’s Eats Pass, a monthly subscription package offering unlimited food delivery, can not only have Sturm products delivered to them within 35 minutes but also receive a free anti-aging body cream and cleanser with purchases above $300.
“These launches are the first in a series of member-only experiences being lined up by Uber,” Kim said, adding how the company’s membership programmes are presently on the quest to make everyday life effortless for its customers.
On the other end of this conversation, a linkup with Uber could be the first big step into on-demand services for many beauty brands. “We’re testing it to see how people react to buying products on instant delivery,” said JP Mastey, founder of Corpus Naturals. In the interview with Vogue Business, Mastey added how the company had initially decided to offer free domestic shipping, primarily to meet the expectations set by retailers such as Amazon. “With the pandemic, people have become really used to ordering and receiving goods within hours or minutes. If that’s the way people want to consume and purchase, then we’ll have to meet them there—and services like this are ideal for that.”
A catch to the win-win-win situation
With retail research finding 77 per cent of gen Z and 82 per cent of millennials to be regular online shoppers, Uber’s attempt at shaking up the beauty industry might just be a successful and cost-effective one. However, experts warn how convenience doesn’t necessarily equate to luxury. “If you don’t make your consumer dream about who you are then you’ll face challenges,” said Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, global beauty lead at Accenture. According to the expert, Amazon has been trying to penetrate the luxury and fashion industries for years, “but I’m not sure that they have succeeded because they are still perceived as a convenient platform.”
Then there is the bigger question as to what such initiatives could cost everyone involved in it. “Uber wants stuff for free that it can add to a loyalty programme with as little cost to it as possible. The brands and retailers want Uber to give free marketing. Consumers just want free stuff,” said Sucharita Kodali, vice president of retail at the research and advisory firm Forrester. If everyone just wants as much as possible for as little as possible, how do you create a compelling offering that someone wants and is a win-win-win?
For Uber to succeed with on-demand membership, plenty of benefits will need to be baked into a loyalty programme to encourage its regular use. According to Kodali, Uber’s operation will also need to be seamless and in sync with the inventory carried by brands. With American beauty brand Coty landing a deal with the food and alcohol delivery service Gopuff and Sephora inking a partnership with grocery service Instacart for pickup and deliveries, curation is another factor that could help set Uber apart.
As of now, the company plans to announce more benefits and partnerships with brands in November 2021. So don’t be surprised if you suddenly have the option of ordering a $50 overnight serum alongside $1 french fries from McDonald’s.
Beauty on the run: you can soon order your favourite skincare products on Uber