The battle to bring food to your desk or sofa is hotting up, turning a one-man-and-his-moped sector into a multi-million-pound cut-throat industry.
Controversial car booking app Uber is the latest to jump on the hotfood bandwagon, launching UberEats .
It will sell food from 150 restaurants using a network of contracted bicycle and moped couriers – taking on the existing market which is dominated by Just Eat and the fast-rising Deliveroo, the brainchild of a former Canary Wharf worker.
UberEats operates out of an app that is linked to car service accounts. Users can browse the menu of local restaurants and order food to their GPS location, reaching beyond the curry house and pizza market staples to sandwiches and salads.
It operates only in Zone 1 at the moment but plans to roll out to Zones 2-4 later, making its 30 minute delivery target part of the marketing gimmick.
“I think people will come to UberEats for the same reasons they come to Uber in the first place,” Alex Czarnecki, UberEats in London said. “This is going to be significantly faster than competitors.”
Chilango, Hummus Bros, Pho, Sushi Surprise, Tossed and frozen yoghurt shop Snog are among those signed up for the scheme.
Uber has suffered backlash because of its arms-length relationship with its drivers but maintains the “thumbs-up-thumbs-down” rating for its network of couriers who are paid by the mile and delivery. As with its car service, it is looking to fill out the work schedule of piecemeal and part-time drivers – which is such a fast growing market that unions, like the GMB, are worried about the attrition of workers’ rights generally.
Meanwhile, Deliveroo, formed by former Canary Wharf Morgan Stanley investor, Will Shu has raised a total £132million to exploit its USP – partnering with premium restaurants that don’t typically deliver, including Michelin-starred Trishna. It has a market valuation of $1billion, making it a fabled “unicorn”.
It was at Canary Wharf that Shu came up with the idea, after he realised how few London restaurants delivered compared to his previous berth in New York.
Although, he said this week, his original model was somewhat less highbrow. He said he was planning call the operation BoozeFood, delivering snacks to the post-pub crowd. “It’s a joke,” he confessed later.
Fans tweeting #WichBreak and the first part of their postcode in the hope of winning a delivery of Ben & Jerry’s ‘Wich range treats ahead of the pilot service starting on June 30.
Deliveroo spokesperson Kate Thomas said: “Ben & Jerry’s is one of the best loved ice cream makers in the world. We know our customers in London will be as thrilled about the start of this partnership as we are.”
Not to be left out the delivery arms race, Just Eat is looking at how to boost its technology with the expansion of its research and development team.
The latest innovation is to make it easier for groups of people, all connected to one Wi-Fi network, to create food orders from separate mobile devices onto the Apple TV.
Chief product and technology officer Fernando Fanton said: “Working with brands like Apple, Amazon and others, we want our technology to become a permanent feature in our customers’ living rooms, as well as in our restaurant partners’ offices and kitchens.”
Some £40million will be invested in its marketing and tech operations in attempt to maintain market share.
All these innovations come as Amazon announces that it is launching a fresh food delivery service to parts of London, operating out its Bow warehouse.