UberEats goes live in Joburg tomorrow

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Look out Mr Delivery, here’s UberEats, the food delivery service the car-hailing service first rolled out in Toronto, Canada, in 2015. The service goes live in Johannesburg tomorrow and uses a standalone app, rather than being built-in to the existing Uber app, which is available for Android and iOS. Deliveries are completed using a combination of existing UberX vehicles and dedicated UberEats two-wheelers.

When a user open the app they’ll be shown partner restaurants within a 3.5km radius. Once they’ve placed their order, users will get an estimated time of delivery. Uber says it hopes to be able to complete most deliveries in 30 minutes from time of order. Users can sign into UberEats using the same login details they use for regular Uber, and use the same cards for payment. Use the promotional code “UberFreeMeal” and you’ll get R100 off your first order.

There’s no option to pay with cash. At least, not yet. But, on the upside, UberEats isn’t subject to the surge pricing that sees fee multipliers applied to regular Uber rides when demand is high. Restaurants pay UberEats a 30% commission on orders. Like regular Uber, there’s no option to tip drivers from within the app, but there’s also no expectation to do so.

There’s no minimum order size — yes, you can order one ice cream, or one serving of BGR’s chips — but every order includes a delivery fee of R20 (the same as the minimum fare for an UberX) and all orders are placed from the app directly. The goal for Uber, of course, is to keep its drivers busy for more of the time they’re on the road. Because less time means better earnings for everyone concerned.

Restaurants can choose whether to offer their whole menu or only specific items, can add specials or mark items as sold out, and can alter pricing should they wish. Uber says an API will follow the will allow restaurants to directly manage their own menus on the platform.

Much like drivers need a specific app, restaurants will need to have the UberEats app installed on a compatible device. The app allows them to view incoming orders, receive driver ETAs and contact drivers or customers.

ubereats-bagUberEats includes a similar rating mechanism that Uber relies on to ensure any problematic drivers (or customers) are rooted out fast.  “From the eater side, they rate every meal item and the experience with the courier,” says Dave Kitley, operations and logistics manager at Uber South Africa.

He says this data will be used to help restaurants choose which items to offer. “Couriers rate the eater and the restaurant, and the restaurants rate the courier,” Kitley adds.

The service is unable to deliver alcohol, but Kitley says this is something that’s likely to change eventually.

Like regular Uber, UberEats will offer users a unique promotional code they can share with other would-be diners. When someone uses the code, the referrer will receive R100 in UberEats credit.

Initially the service will only be available from 7am to 10pm, and will include restaurants like BGR, Momo Baohaus, Mexican Fresh, Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream and Cafe del Sol.

When can other SA cities expect to receive the service? “The priority is Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, followed by expansion across Gauteng,” Kitley says. “We expect extend the service to Midrand and Pretoria by the end of year and Cape Town next year.”

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