Agile service development in action: Uber’s on-demand delivery service

This week Uber, the rideshare and taxi app worth a whopping $18.2 billion, announced the launch of Corner Store, a new on-demand delivery service being trailed with a select group of users in Washington DC. Corner Store will enable customers to order a limited range of emergency supplies (from toiletries to medicine) straight to their door by using the Uber app.

Taking advantage of the service is easy. Users simply toggle to the Corner Store option, set their delivery location, confirm their order with the driver and then wait until they return with the goods.

Being able to order emergency supplies straight to your door is an interesting development in itself. But what’s most exciting about this new service is that it is an example of agile service development in action.

By launching Corner Store, Uber has effectively created a minimum viable product to test with its users. Corner Store has been launched in its most basic form – the list of supplies, delivery range and group of users the service is available to are all limited. And so are the timescales for the service. As Uber states on its blog, Corner Store is a “limited-time-only experiment that will run a few weeks – but the more you love it, the more likely it will last” i.e. Uber is testing the concept of a delivery service to see if it resonates with consumers and if it does, it may be here to stay.

Central to the launch of Corner Store shop is a strong emphasis on customer feedback. In the blog post introducing Corner Store, Uber seeks customer feedback on the service at multiple points, asking them to list products they’d like to see added to the inventory list and to register their interest.

So what are the benefits of this agile approach? Testing Corner Store with a limited group of customers and then asking others to register their interest in the concept is an effective way of assessing if there is an appetite for this service. This will allow Uber to go to market with the confidence that their new service will be a success, rather than wasting precious time and money on a full scale roll-out that may fail to resonate with customers.

Secondly, the focus on customer feedback means that Uber will be able to iteratively improve its service, to ensure it meets customer needs. As such taking an agile approach to service development will maximise Corner Store’s chances of success. 

We’d love to hear other examples of growth through agile product and service development in action. Please share your ideas with us in the comments.