We all know that Amazon is a giant in the world of retail. From his humble beginnings as a book retailer, he changed the face of shopping. Now not only does it sell virtually everything in the world hardware Chromecast and Apple TV ), but will deliver it even better than anyone else.
For an annual fee, the Amazon Prime service offers free one-day delivery, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg: the company is constantly experimenting with new services, such as Amazon Prime Now (which offers one-hour delivery) and quick assembly of your own delivery drone fleet . Given its dominance elsewhere, it would seem that Amazon is unbeatable.
That’s why a seemingly boring technical ad from the Uber taxi app caught my eye. It suggests that Uber may be about to give Amazon a real run for its money.
UberRUSH: Faster than you think
For several years now, Uber has been experimenting with a service it calls UberRUSH in some cities. Uber is not just about transporting human beings and fighting taxi drivers, but also wants to participate in the delivery game.
The idea is that small businesses, such as florists, tailors and restaurants, can use Uber to deliver. By integrating with a number of business applications, such as Shopify, business owners can summon a vehicle to transport their valuable goods to customers for them. It’s a smart idea because it means that small businesses can provide a delivery service without having difficulty setting them up, and it’s a good idea for Uber because it means there are more apps for any overcapacity. they have. on the way. And it’s a win-win for customers, as both they and the company they ordered from can track the driver in real time on their phone, just as you can request a lift.
The big news, which makes me believe that Uber could consider Amazon Prime, is that yesterday the company announced an UberRUSH API. In essence, the API is a set of tools for developers that allows them to connect directly to Uber services, allowing services to be activated or selected automatically by users, rather than company staff.
In other words, under the existing system, an Uber delivery must be requested and scheduled manually by the florist or baker in an application. With the new API, Uber deliveries could be integrated into the payment process. So when you buy something, you can have the option to schedule an Uber delivery yourself, for when it’s right for you. You may even be offered different pricing options. This is much less work for the business and is much more scalable.
The company has already announced that the API has spurred growth in companies that support UberRUSH, including fashion retailer Nordstrom and EatStreet restaurant delivery service (essentially an American equivalent of Deliveroo).
«Uber could make ordering from an independent retailer more convenient.»
The scalability aspect is important. Imagine how easily this service could be launched for all the other small businesses that compete with Amazon. Suddenly, Amazon does not have a huge advantage in terms of delivery, and Uber could undoubtedly make it more convenient to order from an independent retailer.
Hell, Uber already has the payment details of millions of people, so why not allow us to use our Uber accounts to pay, preventing us from re-entering card details on a new website? Pay once, deliver in minutes.
And, of course, Amazon is not just a monolithic giant. Part of the reason it has grown so much is that, through the Amazon Marketplace, it allows thousands of independent sellers to sell their products. Even try convince Market sellers use Amazon Prime to deliver orders.
But Uber’s entry into the delivery struggle could be good for these smaller companies as well. Amazon is notorious for using its enormous power to intimidate smaller companies into accepting less favorable terms (as is the case with the publishing industry), and if Uber offered a viable alternative, Amazon would be forced to work. more to get. your company’s business. Market sellers. That could mean more money or fewer draconian offers for suppliers.
The other really interesting aspect of this is in terms of how much more efficient Uber deliveries could make. One of the principles behind Uber is that it wants its vehicles to run consistently. If a car moves a person or a package from A to B, it earns money for the company, and the downtime between trips is wasted. That’s why the company has experienced services such as UberPool, where drivers will pick up more people traveling about the same trip, and UberHop, where vehicles will travel on certain routes more than a traditional bus service.
For this to happen, Uber spends a lot of time processing data and improving its algorithms to ensure that when its app spits out instructions that tell drivers where to go, it follows the best possible route. While Uber is very secretive about exactly how it does it, it’s obvious to speculate that this means taking into account real-time traffic conditions and historical travel data, along with other data sources to determine the optimal routes.
With this relentless level of efficiency, the cost of global deliveries could be reduced, making it better for consumers and small businesses. And maybe even the environment, if efficiencies can be channeled to require fewer vehicles on the road. It could also mean better service. Just as Amazon Prime Now, the company’s one-hour delivery service, shows you in real time where your package is, Uber already has this technology built into its app and is smart. This in itself could put an end to the wait throughout the day for a «7:00 to 21:00» delivery window from other couriers.
«Uber could become a critical part of the shopping experience soon.»
Obviously, I’m a little ahead of myself, but Amazon’s challenge really seems like the next natural step, especially if Uber is serious about deliveries. Despite the lack of inventory, Uber could soon become a critical part of the shopping experience.
Currently, UberRUSH is only available in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but it’s easy to see how the company could expand it. In cities around the world, there are already thousands of drivers capable of delivering physical and human goods and there are already millions of people with the app on their smartphones that would make it possible overnight.
Maybe Amazon should hurry up and prepare its army of drones; After all, the Uber fleet is ready to go.