Technology has forced the rapid evolution of many industries, and logistics is no exception. Just like how the Internet reshaped the way we watch movies and listen to music, apps such as Lyft, Uber and a range of similar services, have irreversibly changed our attitudes towards how we should get from A to B.
A delivery pilot program is testing the viability of using Uber drivers as couriers.
Earlier this year, TechCrunch revealed Uber's plan's to roll out a merchant delivery pilot program that would essentially allow UberRush (a bicycle delivery service operating in New York and a few other select cities) and Uber drivers to act as couriers. Cruising around with a smartphone in one pocket and a fuel card in the other, drivers will be able to take orders from various merchants on the fly and deliver the goods to an assigned destination.
How will the Uber merchant program affect New Zealand?
This is big news for businesses around the world, including right here in New Zealand, where Frost & Sullivan forecast that 90 per cent of people will have a smartphone by 2018. This means that the vast majority of the population is able to summon an Uber delivery driver with the press of a button.
Uber's reliability, convenience and cost-effectiveness have been well-documented in its short lifetime, and consumers have been the ones to reap the benefits. With its services set to hit the commercial sector, is it possible that local companies could stand to benefit in a similar way?
Which companies will use the service?
It's rumoured that a number of big international brands – including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's and Hugo Boss, among others – are considering trialling the new system. As TechCrunch noted, traditional retailers that rely on keeping exact inventory records may find it challenging to transition to such a dynamic delivery system.
While it still remains to be seen exactly how effective UberRush will be (especially in sparsely populated countries such as New Zealand), it's easy to see the potential. With a few simple swipes, companies will be able to view available drivers and assess their feedback before committing to enlisting their service. As with the regular Uber app, you'll also be able to keep track of their location, which gives you a clear idea of their expected time of arrival.
Other companies have attempted similar ventures in the past, but none had the same reputation and infrastructure that Uber has carefully cultivated since its inception in 2009.