Monthly Archives: November 2023

Uber ~ It’s Not Just for People Anymore

In case you haven’t noticed, Uber isn’t just for people ride-sharing anymore. It has expanded its service to include delivering and returning packages for shipment. Uber’s new “Return a Package” feature adds on to “Uber Connect” by picking up online returns and delivering them to predetermined shipping points (e.g., UPS, USPS, FedEx) for a fixed fee.

It can be a pain to return something. And we bet you have something in your house that you bought online and want to return, but just haven’t gotten around to it. (No shame.) After the box is packed, we have to get in the car (perhaps calling an Uber for a ride?) or on a bus and travel to a return spot such as the U.S. Post Office, FedEx, or UPS. (And doesn’t it always seem as if the line gets longer just before you enter…)

Returning packages bought online is a growing practice in the U.S. According to the National Retail Federation, online customers last year returned 16.5%, more than $212 billion worth of purchases! Many of those purchases will be rejected by consumers and need to be returned for a credit.

So, Uber is now making it easier to return those online purchases. Using the Uber app, you can schedule a pick-up and delivery for a flat $5.00 fee. A courier will pick up your prepaid, packaged item and drop it off at a predetermined destination. The service is available in more than 4,950 cities in the U.S.

Uber isn’t the only company trying to cash in on a growing practice. DoorDash began a similar service in January, and Walmart offers at-home return pickups for subscribers in its Walmart+ membership program.

What are you going to return?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has used Uber’s ride services?
  2. Poll students: What are the issues involved when they need to return a purchase via shipping? Does anyone have something that they haven’t gotten around to returning yet?
  3. Show a video about the new service:
  4. Show the news release from Uber:
  5. Poll students: Who would use this service? Why or why not?
  6. Divide students into team. Have each team work on a possible SWOT analysis that led Uber to its decision to launch the new service.
    1. Strengths: what is company good at?
    1. Weaknesses: what needs work?
    1. Opportunities: what is going on in marketplace?
    1. Threats: what should company be wary of?
  7. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?

Source: Durbin, Dee-Ann. (10 October, 2023). Uber adding package return to services in 5,000 cities. Associated Press.; Lukpat, A. (4 October 2023). Uber introduces package return service. Wall Street Journal.

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Who’s Watching Who?

It’s football season time! And you know what that means, right? Right! Data analytics!

What? Maybe you didn’t pick data analytics, but you should have. Since 2016, pro sports teams, including NFL and the Minnesota Vikings (among other teams) have been taking photos during games in order to better understand their customers – the fans at the games.

Using technology from CrowdIQ and photos taken at intervals at the game, computer analysis now helps teams determine not only how many fans there are, but demographic breakdowns, the times fans arrive, how many watch the halftime show, and whether marketing promotions during games are impactful.

For example, the data shows the percentage of people looking at phones, or looking at something else. (In general, fans miss most of the action on the field with only about 40% seeing an actual ball snap!)

While CrowdIQ does not use facial-recognition, photos are also taken on the streets, and stadiums are surrounded by security cameras. And don’t forget the fans themselves who are snapping hundreds of pictures, and posting many, at any time during the game.

Using data analytics from the games can lead to specific marketing actions. For example, the Vikings learned that it attracts a younger crowd with more women at games in the evening. That can influence the halftime show, music, and promotions.

What were you doing at the big game?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Has anyone observed crowd behavior at football games?
  2. What types of behaviors might be most useful to marketers.
  3. View CrowdIQ website:
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a plan for the type of data they might want to gather during a game. Consider demographic and psychographic elements.
  5. After each team has at least five or six data sets, have them decide on how to use the data in marketing – before, during, and after the game.
  6. NOTE: A possible assignment is to have students do some of this data gathering at a university sports event, along with analysis for a marketing plan.

Source: Lemire, J. (29 June 2021). CrowdIQ will make you rethink pretty much everything about fan behavior in the stands. Sports Business Journal; Ramstad, E. (11 September 2023). Vikings may now watch fans more than fans watch games. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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“Mom” to the rescue!

What do college students do when they are far from home and need some help – or even just a hug and a home-cooked meal?  Well, if your own mother can’t be there, the next best thing just might be a remote “concierge” mom-for-hire. Yes, there are now concierge services developed specifically to help college students.

Priced at $450 a year, plus delivery fees, concierge moms perform some of the duties a local mom might help with performing. Some of the tasks could be transportation, company at doctor’s visits, grocery shopping, legal help, apartment hunting, and even giving gifts.

Another Mom concierge service based in Boston charges a lot more – up to $10,000 for an academic year and caps the number of students at 30. The service began largely to help foreign students at boarding schools in Boston, but now has expanded to helping college students. Each student has access to as many as five “second moms” who can help with classes, tutoring, and more.

Another type of service is Daisy Bug Delivery in Tampa which accepts deliveries for students, and then hand delivers packages to the right place. Students ship everything from bedding, to minifridges, to laundry carts, furniture, and more. Since June, the service has worked with more than 250 students on shipments and deliveries.

Who will you call?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Has anyone had experiences with concierge services?
  2. Who wished they had this service?
  3. View website for Concierge Services:
  4. View website for Campus Concierge:
  5. Divide students into teams.
  6. Have each team brainstorm a concierge-type of services.
  7. Define the target market, services, prices, and promotion for the service.

Source: Weiss, T. (19 September 2023). A mother’s love – a bargain at $450 per year, plus applicable fees. Wall Street Journal.

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