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The company is said to be talking to 400 retailers to deliver their goods through Uber's fleet
Starting last year, Uber began using its stable of cars and drivers for a new purpose: delivery. Some of those experiments worked out, like it's food delivery service UberEATS, and others did not, like it's same-day household goods delivery service, called UberESSENTIALS.
The company also has a package delivery service called UberRUSH, which it has sometimes used to hook up with retailers.
All of that has seemingly been a prelude to its big play, which has seemingly been uncovered in a report from TechCrunch on Tuesday.
The site was able to gain access to documents showing that Uber is getting ready to launch a new merchant delivery program, with the company entering into partnerships with retailers to deliver their goods.
If this report is accurate, this is going to be big: over 400 merchants either in talks, or already testing it out, including Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss.
Uber has also reportedly teamed up with mobile shopping app Spring to testthe platform with a limited set of brands, including illesteva, Bing Bang Jewelry, Phyllis + Rosie, Mack Weldon, Jinsoon, Industry Standard, Outdoor Voices and Negative Underwear.
When VatorNews reached out to Uber, the company made it sound as though this were another pilot it was running with UberRUSH, like the one that it ran with companies like Rent the Runway, Birchbox and Suitsupply last summer, though obviously on much larger scale.
"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," an Uber spokesperson told me.
TechCrunch, however, says that this is not just another experiment. In fact, Uber has apparently built a separate app, focused solely on merchant deliveries, which Uber drivers will use to take orders.
"Eventually, however, Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and Uber Merchant orders at the same time through an intelligent routing system, all from a single driver-side app," TechCrunch wrote.
In the manual, it calls for drivers to have two phones, one for Rush order and the other for merchant requests, though it says eventually it will "feed all jobs through the same app."
Uber in the delivery space
As I said earlier, Uber has been making moves into the delivery space for a while.
In February the company launched UberEATS in Barcelona. Uber teamed up with Plateselector, a Barcelona-based food guide, and said was working with "the best local restaurants in Barcelona to create a changing selection of lunch and dinner meals that you can receive in under ten minutes."
UberEATS was a slightly rebranded version of UberFresh, the food delivery pilot program for users in certain sections of Santa Monica, California that Uber launched in August of last year.
It allows user to order from a prix fixe menu, which includes items from local restaurants such as Tender Greens, 41 Ocean, and Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery. Each meal costs $12, and is delivered in around 10 minutes. Also, there is no delivery fee.
That experiment seems to be going better than its home goods delivery service, which it also launched in August of last year, Called Uber Corner Store, it was a pilot program in Washington DC, and acted as a way for users to get over 100 items, such as allergy medicine, diapers and toothpaste, delivered right to their door.
In December, the on-demand car service rebranded its delivery service as UberEssentials, calling it "a limited-time-only experiment." And that experiment, presumably, failed because it was shuttered in January.
(Image source: techcrunch.com)
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Uber is a ridesharing service headquartered in San Francisco, United States, which operates in multiple international cities. The company uses a smartphone application to arrange rides between riders and drivers.