Uber's same day delivery merchant program appears to be imminent
By Dan Boaz
A few months ago we wrote about Uber pulling the plug on same day delivery service in Washington D.C. after a very brief pilot period. As we speculated at the time it didn't suggest that Uber was withdrawing from the competitive same day services field but more likely just fine-tuning their overall approach.
This week a new story on TechCrunch revealed that testing by Uber is not only ongoing, but it would appear to be accelerating. It seems the company is repositioning itself to launch a merchant delivery program for select retailers who will receive their goods via Uber drivers (with goods sharing vehicles with fare paying passengers) or UberRush couriers. The article even includes elements of a training manual for Uber drivers looking to carry packages which make for an interesting read.
It's easy to imagine retailers, many with limited access to delivery services, being very interested in the scope of services that Uber could bring to their customers and analysts report that as many as 400 different merchants are considering the Uber Merchant program if and when it rolls out in full.
I'm fascinated by the logistics required to successfully work through such a large undertaking and how well it can pivot with the taxi services that the company is structured around as the cornerstone of their business. Implementing the right technology that allows drivers with passenger 'cargo' to also include retail shipments is something Uber are working diligently on.
The article and the manual shown infers that drivers in test markets have access to merchant orders via a unique app, although ultimately the goal is a merged order system which will allow both passengers and shipments from retailers to combine as a single load.
Do you think it's too ambitious of a program or is Uber the ideal candidate to make it work? Moreover if it becomes widespread and truly national will it compete with or even beat the efforts of Amazon Prime? My guess is we'll either see a merger or a vendor relationship between the two at some point in the future if there is money to be made on a consistent basis.
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