The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSI­NESS -

vel­op­ment, says Uber Eats av­er­ages 31 min­utes.

Jimmy John’s av­er­age is less than 20 min­utes, partly be­cause it lim­its de­liv­ery to a small ra­dius. The com­pany trains its driv­ers and gives them uni­forms, North said. Pay varies by lo­ca­tion. Jimmy John’s charges cus­tomers around $2 for de­liv­er­ies — some third par­ties charge $8 or more — and makes that work eco­nom­i­cally by do­ing more de­liv­er­ies per hour.

“With Uber Eats, the driv­ers have no vested in­ter­est in get­ting the cus­tomer their food quickly,” North said.

Chicago col­lege stu­dent Matthew Rob­bins has seen the is­sue from all sides. He fre­quently orders meals through Uber Eats. He also man­ages a Slim Chick­ens restau­rant in Plain­field, Illi­nois, that started us­ing Uber Eats five months ago.

Rob­bins said his restau­rant gets around 10 orders a day through Uber Eats. He would like to see more con­sis­tency from the ser­vice. Some driv­ers seem pro­fes­sional, but oth­ers bring a car­load of friends and clog up the drive-thru in­stead of pick­ing up their orders in­side the restau­rant.

Rob­bins has also had oc­ca­sional is­sues as a cus­tomer, like wait­ing so long for sushi that it ar­rived warm. But he’ll con­tinue to use de­liv­ery ser­vices be­cause it’s the most con­ve­nient way to eat be­tween classes.

The phe­nom­e­nal growth of third-party de­liv­ery in­di­cates cus­tomers will put up with some hic­cups for the con­ve­nience and va­ri­ety they pro­vide. On Thurs­day, Grub­hub re­ported $5.1 bil­lion in food sales in 2018, a 34 per­cent increase from the prior year, and said it has grown to 17.7 mil­lion din­ers. Uber Eats said it ex­pects to de­liver $10 bil­lion worth of food in 36 coun­tries this year, up from $6 bil­lion in 2018.

Mey­erdirk says poor ser­vice can get weeded out thanks to cus­tomer re­views on Uber Eats. And the com­pany is con­stantly work­ing to improve lo­gis­tics and speed up de­liv­ery times.

“We’re all try­ing to fig­ure out how to serve that cus­tomer,” she said.

Third-party de­liv­ery ser­vices can help restau­rants by bring­ing in new cus­tomers. Grub­hub has 100,000 restau­rants in the U.S. and London on its plat­form, in­clud­ing ones that do their own de­liv­ery and just rely on the site for re­fer­rals. Uber Eats has 200,000 world­wide.

Farm Burger, an At­lanta-based grass­fed burger chain with 12 lo­ca­tions, has lim­ited mar­ket­ing re­sources, so it’s grate­ful for the busi­ness that de­liv­ery ser­vices bring in. Af­ter DoorDash fea­tured the chain in a De­cem­ber pro­mo­tion, it saw an all-time monthly high of 2,942 orders, says Dawn Law, the chain’s mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor.

Even McDon­ald’s says 70 per­cent of the orders it gets through its part­ner­ship with Uber Eats are cus­tomers it might not have got­ten other­wise, par­tic­u­larly late at night.

Bolden of the Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group ex­pects third-party de­liv­ery ser­vices will prob­a­bly con­sol­i­date over the next few years, leav­ing two or three big play­ers with the scale to be prof­itable.

At the same time, he said, many big restau­rant brands will prob­a­bly fol­low Jimmy John’s lead and do their own de­liv­ery so they can con­trol the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and re­tain valu­able or­der data.

“They may use third par­ties to­day be­cause they want the de­mand, but in the long run they don’t want to be de­pen­dent on them,” Bolden said.

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