UberEATS arrives in Delhi NCR to deliver food at uber speed
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Uber’s foray into the food delivery business in India started last month when the ride sharing giant launched UberEATS in Mumbai. On Wednesday, Uber rolled out the on-demand food delivery platform to New Delhi NCR, starting its services in Gurugram thereafter making its way to other parts of the National Capital Region.

UberEATS started as a small project in Los Angeles in 2014 and by the end of 2015, Uber launched a separate app for it. Today, the service is available across 27 countries and 97 cities around the globe. UberEATS offers a wide variety of food and claims a delivery time of 35 minutes.

“UberEATS has received an overwhelming response from Mumbaikars and we recently expanded operations to serve entire city. As a step further in our global expansion strategy, we aim to open up the diverse range of culinary experiences and cuisines to Delhiites at the push of a button. Our goal is to offer people what they want to eat, when they want to eat, in the quickest time possible. The ease and reliability of Uber’s technology is making this a reality, ” Bhavik Rathod, Head of UberEATS India said on the launch.

Through UberEATS, users can order their favourite food and get it delivered to their doorsteps through the app. Uber has partnered with over 300 restaurants from which users will be able to order food. Additionally, there’s no minimum order and users can schedule orders from a restaurant to be delivered ahead of time as far as a week in advance. UberEATS has also partnered with PayTM for users to pay for their orders through the payments platform.

The concept behind UberEATS isn’t really new and we already have food delivery options like Zomato and Swiggy but it would be interesting to see how the ride-sharing business fares in its on-demand food delivery service.

UberEATS app is available on Android and iOS and users can alternatively go to UberEATS website to use the service.

Bhavik Rathod, Head of UberEATS India sat down with Gizmodo India’s Editor-in-Chief Sahil Mohan Gupta to give some more insights about the service and how he sees this business in India, here is the edited transcript of the interaction.

So this is like big launch for you guys, right?

Absolutely. Huge. Delhi is always a big launch. And it’s a huge market.

So, you were talking about the insights you were getting from the app after the launch in Mumbai and you launched first in Gurgaon, but are there plans to launch in Delhi and Noida?

For Sure. Absolutely.

Talking about generally the food delivery landscape, you have a couple of competitors, Zomato, Swiggy and all of these guys. So how do you compete?

I completely disagree with that; and I think I get that question very often because I think there’s opportunity out there is so large that the industry is very very nascent at this point of time. And when you say someone is established, I think that you’re already pegging that they’re not gonna grow which is not true. I think everybody’s gonna grow and the industry is going to grow. I think with UberEats, we come falling into this business with a lot of prior knowledge about India with 4 years of the rides business that we’re running here. We’re coming in with knowledge of running UberEats in 96 other cities that we’re going to apply that here as well. So a lot to be done and you’ll see that evolution coming in the next few months and years.

Uber is known as a ride-sharing platform, essentially, right? How do you use that expertise in the ride-sharing business can help you differentiate in this space?

I think in many ways. I think first and foremost, the fact that because you’ve been in India for 4 years, there’s a lot of local nuances that we learnt about the business. Connectivity being an issue. How do people pay for their rides and will it be similar for the eats platform or not. Traffic patterns, how does traffic move at lunch hour, dinner hour, breakfast hours, peak hours. Where do we see congestion more versus less, so we can actually predict then what the delivery time is going to be. In Gurgaon Sector 29 versus what’s going to be in Phase II of DLF, as an example. So all those data insights carry forward.

The other advantage, of course, is the fact that we have millions of users that are using the Uber ride's platform that I can then send them to email to and send invites to also download the UberEats application and also start using the UberEats platform. And there is a significant overlap in the target audience. Consumers for rides. A different use case for ordering food but largely it’ll remain the same.

When you talk about incentivising consumers out here and from the rides app, you get a card out there, are you going to, in your early wave, be offering some kind of discounts or something like that?

For sure. Yeah. Like I said, you’ll see an email coming soon, if you’re an active Uber user, with an interesting promotion for you to also download UberEats.

One of the complaints that I hear from a lot of restaurant owners is that they’re saying that the service charge that you guys charge is much higher than say, some of your competitors. So how will you get all of these restaurants on board if your charges are more?

So, I don’t know how we would quantify “a lot” because if you think about our platform already we have over 300 restaurant partners in Gurgaon, live on Day 0 of the launch. And as we speak, there are Uber representatives who are talking to restaurant partners to get more on the platform and there are some restaurants proactively reaching out to us. The reason for that is because they’re seeing immense value in partnering with UberEats and the service that Uber provides them, which is incremental revenue for every single restaurant partner that joins the platform. The data analytics that we provide the restaurant through the restaurant manager app, you saw the video and of course the brand itself as Uber which gets restaurants a lot more comfortable that they are partnering with someone who’s gonna be working with them alongside as thick partners to help grow the business. So I think, you know, what you just said, definitely an in total with the few restaurant partners for sure but, I mean on the other side we have 45,000 restaurants worldwide, we have 300 in Gurgaon alone, we started with 200 in Mumbai and that number has grown exponentially and continues to grow. And I think that won’t be the case if they were not seeing enough value.

As you scale this business across, do you see a situation where you will be able to, sort of reduce some of those charges to get them onboard?

Too early. I mean I don’t know yet. There’s lot for us to learn and we’re just 95 minutes into the launch. So we’ll find out. Like I said, ultimately we’re gonna make sure, and this is business fundamentals, right, this is business 101, you can only be a successful business if you’re adding value to your consumers. Whether its consumers ordering food, whether restaurant partners or whether it’s delivery partners. If any one of them is not seeing the value, the business isn’t gonna stand, it’s gonna fall. UberEats as a business stands on three pillars, you take one pillar out, it's gonna collapse. So we have to make sure as a business to survive we all three see enough value.

Can you name some of the big restaurants in Gurgaon that have come onboard?

Yes. We’ve got Go Kylin, Biryani by Kilo, Chaayos and Twigly, a very popular one that’s on in already.

In Bombay, you have the dabbawalas out there. So, you know, they’re very efficient and like part of the story of UberEats is all about efficiency of getting food out there. So how do you sort of, in a way compete with that?

Honestly, we’ve a lot to learn from them. I remember a Harvard case study on the dabbawalas. I went to an MBA school and actually read that case study myself. I think there’s a lot for me to learn from them versus compete. They’re in a very different space than we are, so I don’t think there’s competition. In fact in Bombay, in the first week of the launch itself, we actually had chocolates, which are UberEats branded chocolates, that we delivered through Dabbawalas. So when the Dabbawala was delivering your khaana at your office, it came along with an UberEats chocolate. We actually partnered with them to spread the word about UberEats. So I think it's a partnership and I think we can learn a lot from each other.

In the US, you can order UberEats and you have these pre-made meals out there also. Some of the platforms, I think in LA it’s there.

Well, some restaurants prepare them based on demand and data that we share with them. They understand exactly, that for lunch I’m expecting 30 orders of Hamburgers, so then you can keep it ready accordingly.

Something of that kind could be replicated out here?

Sure. Why not?

Right now all the deliveries are going to be done on scooters. Are you looking at big vehicles also?

Not at this point in time. I think it’s a lot more efficient to do with two wheelers. because one, the cost structure is a lot lesser, it’s a lot more efficient because they can navigate traffic better as well. So, I feel at this point in time we’re not looking at four-wheelers.

Disclaimer: Times Bridge holds equity in Uber’s India operation which also operates Gizmodo India