Online food ordering services gaining foothold

Online food orders have become the new fad for an increasingly urbanised Kenyan population. Today’s worker seems too busy to walk to the restaurant, sit down and have a meal, and would rather eat at the desk.

Still, there is that time at home when a ready meal would be more convenient than stirring a dish in the kitchen. The market is ripe for service providers, and Uber Eats is just one of the several firms that have introduced food ordering apps in Kenya.

A sister to the more widely known taxi app, Uber Eats has numerous partner restaurants around the world.

Financial Standard had a word with the GM…

Uber Eats Kenya GM Nadeem Anjarwalla.

There are a number of online delivery apps in Kenya. Why should anyone choose Uber Eats?

With seamless food delivery in place and more than 600 restaurants across the world, Uber Eats is fast becoming a significant role player in how people consume food.

The familiarity of Uber Eats and Uber, combined with the convenience of being able to order from several restaurants or request a ride at the tap of a button using the same app, without any language barrier challenges, makes for a very appealing proposition.

How different is the service now compared to when it was rolled out?

Since Uber Eats was launched in Kenya in May 2018, we have seen the trend towards making food delivery more accessible and sustainable, which is why we recently introduced allergy-friendly filters and a utensil opt-in, taking a step forward to reduce plastic waste.

We also made the app more transparent and more human by redesigning the Eats delivery experience. So now you are able to receive the latest on your order from its confirmation and preparation through the delivery driver’s route to the restaurant, order pickup and delivery to your door. 

Have you customised the app for the Kenyan market?

While we are a global business with a presence in over 650 cities around the world, our recipe for success is built on catering to the local taste of the cities we operate in. It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach would never work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In order to succeed, we needed to take a global product and localise it to meet the needs of the local population. This includes everything from payment methods and restaurant selection, to how we market our product.

How exactly does the platform work and how do the various clients benefit?

Uber Eats is a three-sided marketplace, offering consumers quick and reliable food delivery, restaurants access to new customers and delivery drivers flexible economic opportunities. Uber Eats charges each partner a fee for accessing the marketplace.

Consumers pay a delivery fee, and restaurants pay a marketplace fee. We work with a broad range of restaurants, from household names to local favourites, to offer users the best selection of meals to order from in Kenya. Delivery drivers are paid per trip, with fares based on preset rates per kilometre, as well as a set pick-up and drop-off fee.

Due to the extra charges, critics say that the meal-delivery service is a bubble about to burst. What’s your outlook?

Uber Eats is very optimistic about Kenya and the region’s potential for growth. We help local restaurants reach new customers. For delivery drivers, Uber Eats opens up new flexible economic opportunities for people to make money delivering meals from local restaurants.

Uber Eats is giving local enterprises that have no physical presence the opportunity to engage with new customers through the app. We also provide the opportunity for virtual kitchens to expand into new areas and introduce new menu items, after using the key insights (demand, requests) made by users on the app.

We strongly believe that the better we serve our customers the more consumers, restaurants and delivery drivers will use our app.

What are some of the consumer trends you have observed in Kenya?

Our biggest learning since entering Kenya and from operating in hundreds of cities around the world is that no city or taste bud is the same and we have invested in localising our product to meet the specific needs of local residents and businesses.

Based on the recently launched Uber Eats Local Cravings Report, it was identified that Kenyans love supporting locals and home-known flavours. Kenyans want convenience at a price point they can choose and we are helping people order when, where and how they want. Grocery is a huge market and I’m excited to see how we can leverage our technology to help people access different services.

We’ve identified flax seed as the emerging superfood to watch in 2020 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Chicken, Chinese and pizza were the most popular foods ordered in Kenya in 2019. Virtual kitchens are also beginning to pick up an increasing amount of popularity throughout the world.

Some restaurants have already purely built their restaurant on the business model of a virtual kitchen. We are seeing this growth in Kenya as well, if you look at African Traditional Kitchen, Mama Ntilie, Ciao Mambo and King Chapati by Anpa, among others.  

[email protected] 

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