Uber’s evolution from a car-hailing service to a delivery operation appears to be underway.
The San Francisco, California-based company is in talks with hundreds of big-name retailers for a same-day delivery program, TechCrunch reports. Some of the high-end brands talking to Uber about same-day delivery include Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s and Hugo Boss. The service would allow for quick in-city deliveries from retail locations to customers; it wouldn’t involve warehouse shipments.
Uber has experimented with rapid order delivery in the past, but now it appears for the first time to be working on a dedicated app for the service. Eventually, Uber plans to allow drivers to pick up human passengers and merchant cargo all from within the same app.
While expanding from moving people around cities to moving cargo might seem like a big change for Uber on the surface, it isn’t all that different in practice. Uber is best understood not as a ride-hailing service but as a logistics platform for short-haul trips, powered by big data and intelligent algorithms. It’s also investing heavily in driverless car technology, which could help it cut human drivers out of the equation entirely. Uber, then, is well-positioned to compete with the likes of UPS and FedEx when it comes to quick in-city deliveries.