Uber Eats for Business will tap into the growing market for workday food delivery. / Uber Eats Uber Eats for Business will tap into the growing market for workday food delivery. / Uber Eats

Uber Eats Makes It Easier for Workers to Expense Meals

Uber Eats is having a banner year. Already named the fastest-growing third-party food delivery company in the country, it’s now set to cover 70 percent of the U.S. population by the end of the year. Partnerships with some of the country’s largest and most well-known restaurant chains have propelled Uber Eats’ growth among consumers, but it’s also tapping into another user base: workers.

Concur, a leading travel and expense provider, has seen a 700 percent increase in the number of Uber Eats meals expensed by employees on the platform. Uber is taking advantage of this trend, joining two of its businesses — Uber Eats and the corporate-facing Uber for Business ridesharing service together to launch a new product.

Uber Eats for Business debuts today, and allows employers to manage employees’ Eats delivery orders for easy tracking and expensing and gives employees access to a business account, which is billed directly for approved meals. Employers can set usage guidelines and restrictions, and users can toggle between personal and work accounts within the Eats app. Beyond office deliveries, in initial testing, Uber says its seen increased use of the Eats app among business travelers having orders delivered to their hotels.

Stephen Chau, Uber Eats head of product, said he sees potential for restaurant partners with this product, including larger order sizes for restaurants and potentially an entirely new audience. “It will be interesting to see if restaurants will get even more new customers discovering them because this is another opportunity for their food to be showcased,” he said.

Uber’s food delivery business has become an important entry point for potential rideshare customers: more than 40 percent of first-time Eats users are also completely new to using Uber. It’s also big business for the company, profitable in a number of markets. A recent estimate pinned Eats’ proposed valuation at $20 billion.

Catering and Large Format

While Uber Eats for Business is mainly a product for corporate employers managing expenses, it’s indicative of a larger opportunity for food delivery companies — and the restaurants they support — across the board.

During earnings calls this week, companies from Outback Steakhouse to Chipotle to Denny’s touted the growing success of off-premise orders, which include both delivery and catering. For employees in a business setting, this can translate to small group lunch orders or larger catering orders, both of which are top of mind for the companies providing the delivery service.

In a separate interview with Skift Table, DoorDash chief operating officer Christopher Payne said that catering has been an important part of DoorDash’s growth, and will be a growing focus for the company in 2019. The company is currently testing a marketplace for catering orders in California.

Mass adoption of food delivery technology during the workday could also work in restaurants’ favor, encouraging workers to patronize local businesses instead of a larger corporate cafeteria. In Uber’s hometown of San Francisco, the planning commission recently rejected a so-called “cafeteria ban” legislation that would have placed limits on new office cafeterias in an effort to encourage employees to patronize local businesses instead.

While such a measure may seem localized to tech hubs like San Francisco and cities in Silicon Valley — the city of Mountain View, California successfully banned free employee cafeterias — the sentiment could resonate. As workday delivery becomes more accessible and easier for employers to support, local restaurants and delivery companies alike stand to benefit.

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