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Uber wants to be your express delivery service for everything

Uber wants to be your express delivery service for everything


The company’s next big play to move beyond ride-hailing

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Uber announced today its plans to expand its application program interface, or API, project to its nascent delivery service, UberRUSH. By adding just a few lines of code, businesses such as Nordstrom and 1800flowers can now integrate UberRUSH's one-hour delivery service directly into their digital products.

It's an extension of Uber's plan to encourage app developers to deep link to the car-hailing service — and a less-than-subtle way to place its branded service within a variety of third-party apps. But it's also a sign of Uber's desire to become not just the world's de facto transportation service, but also its go-to delivery service. In doing so, Uber is entering a very crowded market, where Amazon, Google, and other delivery startups are all clamoring to lock down big name retailers.

"A product specifically for businesses"

Other businesses who plan on using Uber Rush's API include delivery startups like Operator, Google Express, and Curbside, fashion shops like Rent the Runway, food delivery businesses like Olo and Eat Street, and logistics operators like SAP, Bergen Logistics, and Trade Global, the latter two of which are logistics providers for global retailers like Rebecca Minkoff and Cole Haan.

"We are taking a lot of large strides forward in terms of working with businesses and understanding what their needs are," said Calvin Lee, product manager at Uber. "Traditionally we've been a consumer focused company... Here we are building a product specifically for businesses."

UberRUSH started as a bike courier service in Manhattan. It launched officially last October in just three cities: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. It competes with services like Postmates, delivering items like groceries, take-out food, and house supplies. Couriers for UberRUSH can also moonlight for uberX, but they must receive special training to work for the delivery service, Lee said.

"We're going to be fast"

Through its private API project, impatient shoppers can opt to have their items delivered the same day they were purchased by UberRUSH's couriers, and all within the digital ecosystem of the company from which they are shopping. And much like hailing a ride with uberX, the service offers real-time tracking, so customers know how quickly their items will arrive.

"We're going to be fast, we're going to be affordable, we're going to be simple and easy to use," Lee said.

Over a year ago, Uber announced it would open its API to app developers who wanted to integrate the car-hailing service into their app. The implications were huge: users could summon a car with just the tap of a button from Google Maps, OpenTable, Trip Advisor, or any number of other apps. In December, Uber integrated with Facebook Messenger, so users can hail a ride and track their driver's progress from within Facebook's app.