Uber is expanding its same-day product delivery ambitions with the launch of a new merchant delivery app, TechCrunch reports.
Uber’s been testing product deliveries with its UberRush bike couriers since this time last year. But this new app would enable your ordinary Uber car drivers to deliver products from retailers like Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss.
In fact, the report indicates that this nascent Uber Merchant Program could work with as many as 400 stores in different parts of the country, enabling deliveries in hours, if not less. They might well even include food deliveries.
It just makes sense: Drivers are already rolling in circles around the city (pick a city, any city), so why not grab items and drop them off? In fact, the Uber Merchant Program employee manual obtained by TechCrunch indicates that this expanded program means that drivers will be able to multitask and haul packages and passengers at the same time.
Right now, drivers who were tapped to participate in this program have to carry two official Uber phones: One for passengers, one for packages. Once the Merchant Program comes out as a ready-for-primetime service, the two phones will be combined into one.
“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 said in an email.
There’s a lot of heat on the delivery market right now: Hot delivery startup Postmates just signed a high-profile deal with Chipotle Mexican Grill, while Amazon’s delivery drones loom on the far-off horizon.
It’s also worth noting that Uber competitors like Sidecar already do package and food deliveries in partnership with ordering services like Seamless, at least within San Francisco.
But Uber has the infrastructure, the cars, and the relentless drive to really get it done in a big way.