People 'n' Issues

Uber evolves beyond rides

March 15th, 2017
Since launching UberEATS six months ago, the company has learned some interesting insights into South African eating habits. JAMBU PALANIAPPAN, Regional General Manager for UberEATS in EMEA looks into the facts to do with eater’ and restaurants using the app.
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First, Uber made it simpler for South Africans to get around. Next, we applied the concept of getting a ride at the touch of a button to bringing South Africans their favourite meals at their fingertips.

In the six months since UberEATS first launched in the country, we have learnt some fascinating insights into the habits and appetites of South Africans. You’re a classic bunch, with the most-ordered dish for 2017 being the cheeseburger. As UberEATS has food options to match all budgets, we have noticed certain trends throughout an average week.

Efficient businesspeople are pre-scheduling breakfast orders to arrive at work at the same time they do and offices are ordering in food or coffee for their business meetings. However, not everyone in the office is indulging. Many are turning away from canteen food in favour of ordering a healthy, nutritionally-balanced lunch!

UberEATS is also changing the way South Africans entertain. Instead of slaving over the stove and dirtying a sink of dishes, groups of friends are ordering in large quantities of small dishes to share on Friday and Saturday nights. Sundays are times when families gather, often ordering in their favourites for the Sunday night movie.

Observant eaters cottoned on to the fact that they are now able to order alcohol, something that we’ve not officially announced. However, eaters are responding well to this offering, requesting drinks for dinner parties and sun downers. Like most of our competitors one is able to order alcohol through UberEATS if it’s on the restaurant’s menu, and they have a ‘off premise license’. Uber has a strict policy that ID must be provided to the courier upon delivery.

Our largest order was over R6000, ordered by a generous company for an in office celebration, which is unsurprising as many businesses use the app to cater for corporate events.  In the first 2 months over 100 000 eaters downloaded the app so far.

Over 700 local restaurants are also benefitting from the ease of UberEATS as they use its intelligence for everything, from serving their customers better to deciding on the location of their next store. We have, for example, already seen how successful some businesses that are not ‘restaurant based’ have been. Restaurants are now exploring fascinating new business models, such as running their entire business online.

Take Bruno Persic for example. Persic, Joint MD at Philly Cheesesteak Co. recognises the potential of the UberEATS app, “we want to be part of the next big thing in food,” says Persic. “After meeting with the UberEATS team we decided to put the idea of a revolutionary “Digital Kitchen” into action. Essentially a digital kitchen is the same restaurant as Philly Cheesesteak Co. without the traditional front of house “dining area”. The key benefit being able to service an area like Sandton without opening a full service restaurant with the burden of exorbitantly high retail rentals of shopping malls or high streets. We honestly believe the Digital Kitchen concept will add a new dimension to dining convenience.”

Now, with the help of a new ‘restaurant manager’ restaurants are able to take their businesses to the next level. The newly unveiled UberEATS Restaurant Manager is becoming the one place restaurants need to go to manage and grow their business. As a first for South Africa and by partnering with UberEATS, restaurants have access to real-time data, which gives them access to their sales, performance, and customer sentiment data in an easy-to-understand format.

They see visualizations of key insights, such as customer satisfaction, most and least popular dishes, average prep time and sales by day. None of our competitors offer this kind of in-depth insight, and one can only begin to imagine the benefits this provides to restaurant owners. It means no more ‘guestimates’ – restaurant owners can make decisions on real data that is easily picked up and understood. Owners can now see exactly when they are busiest and need more support, whether a new menu is going down well, or if a price change is impacting sales.

With some restaurants increasing their sales by 20-50%, there is no doubt that UberEATS is great for business. Restaurants are employing extra chefs and runners specifically to meet the extra demand that UberEATS is generating. We have also welcomed over 1000 courier partners since our launch in South Africa. We’re just overwhelmed by our success and what a great, new form of economic opportunity UberEATS is providing in South Africa, a country with an unemployment rate as high as 26.5%¹.

UberEATS will continue to evolve to suit the needs of the eater and restaurants that use the App. Our data helps us to understand which areas are more popular at different times of day and week, which we communicate to our courier partners accordingly in real-time. The impact of the weather has been a great learning curve for us, as we learn how to manage the increase in demand while prioritizing the safety of our courier partners.

The UberEATS app is giving restaurants the opportunity to get real-time feedback from their customers on their service experience and favourite dishes. The learnings we have gathered around kitchen structures will also assist restaurants in making the most of their assets to drive new revenues.

We are also responding to our customer’s needs through analysing which campaigns they love most and listening to which services would make life easier. For example, we are currently exploring the possibility of offering freshly made, frozen baby food through the app for new moms. We already offer fresh food delivery; in Cape Town, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants is using UberEATS to get their fresh produce to homes in minutes – taking away that extra trip to the butcher before a Sunday lunch or braai.

We are expanding super-fast so keep a look out for UberEATS, which could be available in your area soon. We’re excited to announce that we are now further expanding our reach in Gauteng, launching in Pretoria and Centurion soon, and within Cape Town, we will be launching in Constantia, Wynberg, Tokai, and Plumstead.

We are getting requests from both eaters and restaurants in all major cities, requesting launch dates, and our goal is to be in all major cities by end of the year or early 2018.

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