Tipping isn’t the only new way Uber drivers can make money while driving. A startup called Cargo Systems is making it easier and safer for drivers to hawk sundries like cereal, candy, and energy supplements using an in-car console and a handy web app for transactions.
Next time you hop into an Uber, you might see a huge display sitting on top of the center console. That’s where Cargo will be displaying the wares that your driver has in stock. Riders can make purchases from their Uber app, which will tell the drivers what you’ve purchased. Once the ride is over or the car has stopped, the driver will hand the goods over. The display unit even has USB ports, so riders can give their phones a quick charge.
While Uber is the marquee partnership, Cargo will make their retail system available to all ridesharing drivers. But, the partnership with Uber is the really interesting one — in the midst of executive turmoil (including the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick) and continued billion dollar losses, Uber may finally be looking for ways to improve their relationship with drivers by helping them make more money.
That’s a big shift for the company. Uber has always been about keeping things cheap and simple for riders, to the point of offering unsustainably low fares subsidized by a glut of venture capital (plus the longtime refusal to allow for in-app tipping). Cargo won’t necessarily be easier for riders, depending on the situation. It’d probably be easier to just pay drivers cash for whatever they happen to have with them in the car.
Then again, it might be better for both drivers and riders in some situations — one of the problems with not allowing in-app tipping is that many Uber riders never had cash on them in the first place. Cargo makes paying for those little sundries cashless, which should lead to more money in drivers’ pockets.
Cargo soft launched in a couple cities earlier this year, and is now making their platform available to all ridesharing drivers. Drivers can sign up for Cargo on their website. Drivers won’t have to pay a dime, either — Cargo not only makes their display available for free, but sends over the goods drivers will be selling at no cost, too. Cargo will even send new stock of those items, which come from companies like Mars, Kellogg’s, Michel et Augustin, Emergency Stain Rescue, and Leaders Cosmetics USA.
UPDATE: 06/28/2017: A previous version of this article stated that Cargo exists within the Uber app — shopping is done using a web app. It was also suggested that Uber makes money off transactions, which will not happen. Corrections have been made in line, and we regret the errors.