In Sidecar’s new business model, people and packages share rides

Uber isn’t the only one eyeing the inanimate object department. Starting today, Sidecar, the smallest member of the ride-hailing trio, will offer same-day delivery in San Francisco. It will introduce the option to the rest of its markets in the next few months.

The company isn’t directly competing with Postmates, Shyp, or UberFresh, though. Instead of catering to consumers who want to order delivery off their phones, it’s partnering with local businesses that want to deliver items to consumers. It’s a subtle difference, but it means the company’s logistics arm will be enterprise- instead of consumer-facing. For now, at least.

These deliveries will be integrated into Sidecar’s Shared Rides feature, which is its carpool option much like UberPool or Lyft Line. Combining both people and packages together, in the same ride, is an intriguing premise, one that differs dramatically from Uber’s smaller experiments with delivery and logistics.

As I’ve written about before, Sidecar launched its Shared Rides feature months before UberPool and Lyft Line, but in classic Sidecar fashion its thunder was stolen. That didn’t stop the company from doubling down on its carpooling vision, raising its next round of funding entirely on that premise and quickly expanding it to all eight of its cities.

But the delivery feature using Shared Rides is a marked shift in product vision for Sidecar, which has struggled to keep up with its better-funded competitors. The company predicts that same-day delivery will be half of its business by 2015.

Investor Fred Wilson wrote a blog post announcing the news. In it he explained:

Combining people plus packages is a win/win/win. Riders get even lower prices for their rides. Drivers make more money (up to 75% more in the San Francisco trial). And ecommerce companies get a less costly and faster way to get their products delivered same day (or even same hour).

Sidecar says it has been testing this service in San Francisco for half a year now and same-day delivery accounts for ten percent of all the company’s rides.