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Uber reportedly planning a standalone delivery service

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 29, 2015

From The News Desk

 

Uber is preparing to expand its delivery business.

TechCrunch obtained training documents used to prepare couriers and drivers for an upcoming service that will allow consumers to have goods delivered from Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, and "over 400" other merchants.

The report indicates that Uber will be working with local merchants as well as other startups -- with Spring, the new shopping app from David Tisch, cited as a specific example -- to provide the goods for this delivery system.

Uber previously expanded its UberEats service, which tasks its existing drivers with ferrying pre-packaged foods as well as riders, to New York and Chicago. At the time, I wrote that this was another step towards the company finally making an official move into the delivery market. That was yesterday.

It makes sense for Uber to chase this market. Instead of having a central hub from which packages are delivered, Uber has built a network of drivers who could easily transport packages while they also hunt for new passengers. This could reduce delivery times -- and the cost of introducing this new service.

Not that Uber's the first company to think of that. Sidecar announced a similar service in February, though its service differs in that it's partnering with retailers and should be invisible to consumers, instead of providing a platform through which shoppers are able to find goods they want delivered.

TechCrunch also reports that Uber kinda-sorta confirmed its ambitions in a statement, which obfuscates the true extent of its experiments in this sector:

'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.'

That might be true, and Uber has even publicized some of these experiments as early as last summer. However, the manual we’ve obtained points to broader ambitions by the company, since it has apparently built a separate app just for merchant deliveries. Like I said at the top: Uber's expanding its ambitions for the deliveries market. And, in the process, it's realizing a promise chief executive Travis Kalanick made to Postmates co-founder Bastian Lehmann in 2012. The promise? That Kalanick would "See [Lehmann] in the trenches."