Taxi smartphone app Uber is planning a major push into the same day delivery business, according to leaked training documents.
The merchant delivery program that would enable online shoppers to get same-day delivery of goods through both UberRush couriers and regular Uber drivers.
The program is launching in a pilot phase sometime in the next 4-5 weeks.
Reports are that Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss may all partake in the Uber Merchant Delivery program.
The scope of the program is evident in a report that there are over 400 different merchants currently in talks (or already testing) with Uber for same-day delivery.
It also appears that mobile shopping app Spring, developed by David Tisch, is part of the initial test of the platform.
Uber sent out a promotional email yesterday offering Spring + UberRush for a limited time for brands such as illesteva, Bing Bang Jewelry, Phyllis + Rosie, Mack Weldon, Jinsoon, Industry Standard, Outdoor Voices and Negative Underwear.
Spring is a good test partner for this type of service, as it already uses its own back-end for merchants to list the precise amount and type of inventory available on the Spring platform at any given time. partnered with Uber’s merchant program, those same vendors just have to list the daily available inventory as opposed to weekly or monthly.
Traditional retailers, such as Neiman Marcus or Tiffany’s, will have a much harder time transitioning to a system that requires data around exact inventory that is available locally throughout the day. Such systems have traditionally been batch processed at the end of the day, once all sales are complete. To run a proper local delivery service the inventory would need to be updated in real-time.
Uber issued the following statement: “Experimenting and finding new, creative ways for the Uber app to provide even greater value to our riders and driver partners is a way of life at Uber. We have been piloting UberRUSH with multiple retailers for the last year.”
While technically true the leaked manual indicates broader ambitions by the company, since there is now a separate app just for merchant deliveries.
It appears that Uber drivers and couriers are currently taking orders through a different app (and a separate phone) than the one they use to receive regular UberRUSH orders. Eventually Uber will likely just have one app running on one phone to streamline the process.
Uber has already been going deeper into the delivery space, with investments in delivering fresh produce via UberFresh, as well as UberEats in Chicago and New York (already available in Los Angeles and Barcelona), letting users order curated meals for lunch and dinner that are delivered by UberEats drivers.
The merchant program is targeting higher-end brands with a current online retail presence, offering the ability to deliver inventory that is locally available on the same day that a customer places the order. All for a fee, naturally.
It was reported that Uber’s original plan for merchant delivery focused on large e-commerce retailers like Amazon and eBay, but the company found that sourcing inventory from warehouses wasn’t worth it. Picking up inventory from local stores, on the other hand, was more feasible as long as the vendor has control over the amount and type of inventory available in a single day.
While the logistics of same day delivery are difficult, Uber already has the necessary infrastructure with its vast network of drivers and couriers.
The scale at which Uber will launch this service will be unlike anything ever seen before in the tech or logistics space. It will mark a truly new era of delivery, where the many fragmented delivery networks offering various service levels will be challenged by a vast, single network with universal service level expectations.