By  on October 14, 2015

Uber will today begin a program that will allow same-day delivery for businesses in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The program, called Uber Rush, began testing in New York in April.Uber Rush begins with about 100 businesses that participated in the test in New York, and today becomes available to businesses in Chicago and San Francisco, where the company is based.Businesses that work with payment platforms including Shopify, BigCommerce and Clover can choose to integrate an “Uber Rush” delivery option to their e-commerce site (viewable only to customers who fit within each city’s radius). Businesses can also use a free, Uber-created Web portal to create deliveries that customers, in turn, can track.It is free for businesses to opt in to use the service, and a business can decide to pay for the cost of the delivery or to pass that cost along to the customer. This means, for example, that a local boutique with an e-commerce site can fulfill same-day delivery without much additional overhead or infrastructure.This also opens up Uber to more drivers, as two-door cars and bikes can also participate (except in Chicago, where cars are the only option). Uber Rush deliveries are flat-rate, and average about $5 to $7. And, like Uber Pool, which is a carpool-like, less expensive Uber option, delivery drivers can deliver multiple items at once.While drivers can drive both for Uber (and deliver people) and Uber Rush, there is a separate onboarding process and they can only be logged in to one or the other at a time. The service fees taken by Uber and the payment to drivers is a similar breakdown as when they are giving rides.According to Uber, the primary motivation was to open up same-day, immediate delivery to small- and medium-size businesses. During the testing process, Shopify found that 20 percent of orders are delivered within a 20-mile radius of a business, and that virtual shopping carts were often abandoned when a business was not able to offer same-day or overnight delivery.Businesses included in the initial test ranged from florists and restaurants to dry cleaners and boutiques.As Uber investor and HDS Capital founder and managing partner Haim Dabah recently told WWD when it reported on the test last month that this would also make great use of Uber’s slower midday periods. “Uber is not busy in the middle of the day,” he said, “so the middle-of-day time period provides more than ample opportunities to deliver packages from luxury stores to consumers.”The new service from Uber, which is estimated to be valued at $50 billion, is its first official foray into delivering something other than people and is another step toward becoming a logistics network, rather than simply a disruptive ride-providing service.

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