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Uber soon to launch food delivery in 10 US cities, possibly Paris
The controversial hitch-a-ride company is getting ready to launch a massive new service that will come with its own corporate division and dedicated app. When you’re out and about, Uber wants to help you get where you’re going. When you just want to stay at home, Uber wants to make Outback Steakhouse come to you.
UberEats is planned to be a delivery service that conscripts Uber’s army of drivers to pick up meals from a variety of local establishments and bring them right to your doorstep. This move positions Uber to face down an industry that has proven to be a historically tough market. The viability of profitable food delivery services has not yet been established, but the playing field is nevertheless extremely competitive. Uber will be pitting itself against a slew of smaller startups already occupying this niche of razor-thin profits.
This isn’t actually a new concept. Uber’s once-competitor (and recently defunct) Sidecar attempted to provide a similar service. Unfortunately, Sidecar didn’t really get a chance to demonstrate whether or not the model was workable before they closed up shop in December 2015, one more victim to Uber’s ruthless competitive edge.
Deliveries will tack an additional $5 onto the cost of any meal orders, which is actually an insanely low figure, considering this must be split between the company and the driver. However, Uber believes the service will be profitable for the company as a whole as well as for its drivers, in part due to an agreed upon fee that the restaurant will pay the driver upon picking up an order.
The process works like this. You’re craving cheddar biscuts, but you’re too lazy/antisocial/drunk to make it to Red Lobster. You pull up your UberEats app, place on order at the restaurant of your choice, and slip back into your sluggish/reclusive/wasted stupor. Uber places the order at the restaurant, waits until the meal is almost ready, and then contacts drivers in the area. These drivers have the autonomy to choose which deliveries to make. Sometimes, if nearby app users place orders at the same restaurant in close timeframes, multiple orders will be offered to single drivers. The driver makes the pick-up and delivery, and all payments are processed in-app.
This service is currently being tested in Toronto, where it seems to be doing well. Over 100 local restaurants have signed agreements with Uber, and their full menus are available on the UberEats app. Now Google will be expanding this service to 10 new cities including Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, and Dallas. It looks like there are plans in the works to make this a multinational service, as the WSJ sniffed out a call for a general manager of UberEats in Paris.
What do you think of UberEats? The app hasn’t hit the Google Play store quite yet (although Toronto residents can find it here) but you can use this service during lunchtime hours in a limited number of cities. Check their website to see if it’s available in your area, and as always, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!