Taxi app Uber launches medicines delivery service in South Africa

The Uber Technologies Inc. application is displayed in the App Store on an Apple Inc. iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. on Monday, April 29, 2019. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Uber Eats’ South African unit on Thursday expanded delivery offerings, launching an app-based over-the-counter medicines service as it seeks to claw market share in the fast-growing online shopping sector in Africa‘s most industrialised economy.

Uber Eats, a unit of U.S. ride-hailing service Uber Technologies already has a lion’s share in South Africa‘s $600 million food dispatching market.

The equally lucrative medicines delivery market is controlled by pharmacy chains Clicks and Dis-Chem, which offered delivery services long before COVID-19 spurred a shift to online shopping.

Analysts say such “first movers” including Naspers- owned Takealot, have a natural advantage over newcomers, especially with users increasingly seeking to use fewer smartphone applications to do more things.

But Uber Eats is banking on a “marketplace” strategy – combining ride-hailing and grocery deliveries and other services on a single mobile phone app that already has over 2 million users in the country, it said in a statement.

Its latest foray in the delivery sector is in partnership with local health group Medicare, which operates more than 50 clinics and pharmacies around the country, and will allow its app users to purchase over-the-counter medication.

“The nationwide lockdown and restriction in movement created an immediate need to accelerate our business in increasing the accessibility to daily essentials,” general manager of Uber Eats South Africa Shane Austin told Reuters.

“Which is part of the reason our focus has been towards on-boarding various other merchants onto the app, aside from just restaurants.”

In its latest Digital Market Outlook, information portal Statista predicted South Africa‘s e-commerce market would see annual compound growth of 11% up to 2024, with the number of online shoppers growing to nearly 37 million from around 25 million currently.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.