Even the smallest customer-facing changes can move the needle in the competitive business of food delivery.
— Kristen Hawley
After years of explosive growth, Uber Eats is turning its attention to improving the most arduous part of the food delivery process: waiting for food.
Today, Uber Eats is unveiling updates to its consumer-facing apps and mobile websites in 16 cities around the world, including Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The new look offers improved order tracking, and a better way to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.
Nothing about this trajectory is surprising. Uber Eats has long relied on Uber’s ridesharing technology to help guide its evolution. Similar to the ridesharing app, Eats customers will be able to contact their courier even before the order is picked up. Changes will also allow customers to track their orders from confirmation and preparation through the courier’s route to the restaurant, order pickup and eventual delivery.
Uber Eats is big business for its parent company. It’s profitable in a number of markets, and, according to one valuation, could be worth as much as $20 billion alone. In November, Uber Eats generated $2.1 billion in gross bookings, 17 percent of Uber’s total gross bookings in the third quarter of 2018.
The food delivery service has also sealed high-profile partnerships with McDonald’s and Starbucks, two chains with giant footprints in the U.S. Both partnerships have not been without their share of obstacles along the way; updating the app to provide a better user experience for customers might in turn alleviate some delivery issues for operators as well.
Cultivating an engaged group of customers in a competitive delivery environment will only help Uber as it moves toward an IPO in the second half of 2019.
In an October interview, Janelle Sallenave, head of Uber Eats U.S. and Canada, explained the company’s priorities, noting that optimizing for speed and efficiency makes a huge difference in converting new customers to regulars. “We make the integrations as seamless as possible so the courier arrives when the food is ready and off they go. Those create really strong first experiences as we’re in new markets and they’re trying out online food delivery for the first time,” she said.
From a technical standpoint, breaking down the pieces of delivery into its various parts from order confirmation to eventual delivery allows a company to work to optimize each step in the process, a tactic that then-Grubhub chief operating officer Stan Chia explained in a past Skift Table interview. With all of that information, Chia explained, Grubhub can fine-tune any expectation they set with a customer.
Current Uber Eats delivery time is 30 minutes or less, an amount of time that’s emerged as industry standard.