Sidecar is expanding a service that merges ride-hailing with same-day package deliveries for hot food, flowers, groceries and other goods.
The company's ride-hailing service competes directly with Uber and Lyft. Now it will compete with Uber's meal delivery service, UberFresh, and a similar mobile-connected courier company called Postmates.
Sidecar launched its delivery service in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago last year. Now it's rolling out the service to seven more cities, including San Diego, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Sidecar Chief Executive Sunil Paul said Monday that although package deliveries now account for 10% of Sidecar rides in San Francisco, he expects deliveries to account for half of Sidecar's ride volume by the end of the year.
"We had this idea since the founding of the company," Paul said. "On New Year's Eve 2011, my co-founder couldn't get a ride home, so he gave a pizza delivery guy $20 to give him a ride."
Paul said the New Year's Eve pizza ride was the catalyst for the delivery service that Sidecar is now rolling out in the 10 U.S. cities in which it operates.
Deliveries are integrated into Sidecar's Shared Rides carpooling feature, allowing drivers to pick up passengers and parcels going on a similar route. Adding package deliveries to the mix gives Sidecar drivers more work and keeps them "busier for longer periods of time," Paul said. Riders also benefit because sharing a ride with a package lowers the fare.
Riders will probably be oblivious to the packages in the trunk of the car because the rider is always picked up after the package and dropped off first. Delivery drivers will undergo special training.
Unlike other app-based delivery services that focus solely on deliveries (Postmates, UberFresh), Sidecar's service is the first to combine people and packages, allowing drivers to chauffeur a person and deliver a package on the same trip.