Forget Amazon Prime – UberRUSH is the future of deliveries
Not content with disrupting taxi services worldwide, Uber is now turning its attention to deliveries – and Amazon should be worried
We all know that Amazon is a juggernaut in the retail world. From its humble beginnings as a book retailer, it has changed the face of shopping. Not only does it now sell pretty much everything in the world (apart from Chromecast and Apple TV hardware) – but it will deliver it better than anyone too.
For an annual fee, the Amazon Prime service offers free one-day delivery, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg: the company is constantly experimenting with new services, such as Amazon Prime Now (which offers deliveries within an hour), and rapidly assembling its own fleet of delivery drones. Given its dominance elsewhere, it would seem that Amazon is unbeatable.
And this is why a seemingly dull, technical announcement from taxi app Uber has caught my attention. It suggests that Uber could be about to give Amazon a real run for its money.
UberRUSH: Faster than you can imagine
For a couple of years now Uber has been experimenting with a service it calls UberRUSH in certain cities. Uber isn’t simply content with ferrying about humans and picking fights with cabbies – it also wants to get in on the delivery game.
The idea is that small businesses, such as florists, tailors and restaurants, can use Uber to fulfill deliveries. By integrating with a number of commerce apps such as Shopify, business owners are able to summon a vehicle to take their precious cargo to customers for them. It’s a smart idea because it means that small businesses can offer a delivery service without the hassle of jumping through the hoops setting it up themselves would entail, and it’s a good idea for Uber as it means there are more applications for any excess capacity they have on the road. And it is a win for customers as both they and the company they’ve ordered from can track the driver in real time on their phone – just as you can when you order a lift.
The big news, which makes me think that Uber could have Amazon Prime in its sights, is that yesterday the company announced an UberRUSH API. In essence, the API is a set of tools for developers that enables them to hook directly into Uber’s services, enabling services to be triggered automatically, or selected by users, rather than staff at the business.
In other words, under the existing system, an Uber delivery has to be requested and scheduled manually by the florist or baker in an app. With the new API, Uber deliveries could be integrated into the checkout process. So when you’re buying something, you may get the option to schedule an Uber delivery yourself, for whenever is good for you. You could even be offered different pricing options. This is much less work for the company, and much more scalable.
The company has already announced that the API has spurred an increase in companies supporting UberRUSH – including fashion retailer Nordstrom and restaurant delivery service EatStreet (essentially an American equivalent of Deliveroo).
“Uber could make it more convenient to order from an independent retailer instead.”
The scalability aspect is important. Imagine how easily this service could be rolled out to every other small business that is competing with Amazon. Suddenly, Amazon doesn’t have a massive advantage in terms of delivery, and arguably Uber could make it more convenient to order from an independent retailer instead.
Heck, Uber already has the payment details of millions of people, so why couldn’t it let us use our Uber accounts to pay, saving us from entering our card details again on a new website? Pay once, deliver in minutes.
And, of course, Amazon isn’t just one monolithic behemoth. Part of the reason it has managed to grow so massively is because, through the Amazon Marketplace, it enables thousands of independent sellers to sell their wares. It even tries to persuade Marketplace sellers to use Amazon Prime to deliver orders.
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