Uber forayed into India’s big, fat, and still unsolved on-demand food delivery space today. It launched UberEats in Mumbai, the country’s most populous city, promising to “make it possible for Mumbaikars to enjoy their favourite food everytime, everywhere” – from local favorites like vada pav to KFC.
The move was announced months ago when Uber asked its users for restaurant recommendations.
Uber’s general manager in Bangalore Bhavik Rathod is heading UberEats in India. “The app brings the pairing of restaurant partners and the efficient Uber delivery network at a tap of a button to people in India,” he says in a company announcement on the launch.
India, with its 600 million millennials, is one of Uber’s most important markets. The country’s crowded metro cities, increasing income and consumption levels, and longer travel times are encouraging drivers of the on-demand economy, especially food delivery. But the space comes with multiple challenges like logistics, delivery costs, negative margins, and unreliable food quality and service from restaurants. These have killed many a funded startup: TinyOwl, ZuperMeal, BiteClub, Zeppery, and iTiffin to name a few that died in 2016.
Even Uber’s Indian rival Ola, which diversified into food delivery, wound it up in a year.
Uber is aware of these challenges and is working specifically to tackle them. “For consumers, we are using machine learning to surface restaurant recommendations as well as integrating popular payment options to make transactions easy; for restaurants, we developed a tool– Restaurant Manager– to share actionable data and analytics to help grow their businesses; and for delivery partners, we have built the ability for them to complete trips even when offline in low connectivity areas,” explains Kartik Murthy, product manager of UberEats Internationationalization & Growth.
A few big ones in the space in India are Swiggy, FreshMenu, Box8, and Zomato, which started as a restaurant listing service. A few weeks ago, Google launched Areo, its new hyperlocal shopping app which helps users order food, home maintenance tasks, and professional services.
Unlike its competitors, the UberEats app, available in both Android and iOS, lets users schedule orders as far as a week in advance. While it does not insist on a minimum order size, UberEats will charge a delivery fee of US$0.23.
UberEats had its pilot run in Los Angeles back in 2014, and is a stand-alone app available in 78 cities across 26 countries.
Converted from Indian Rupees. Rate: US$1 = 64.22 Indian Rupees.
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