Online grocery orders are proving difficult to secure. Restaurants have shut down. Two Coronavirus side-effects - and one opportunity for Uber Eats. Building on a pilot initiative in Australia last year, the firm is adding grocery delivery to its stock-in-trade of takeaway food orders.
The company is teaming up with various supermarkets around the globe to roll out the new service. For example, in France mega chain Carrefour has signed up to have Uber Eats make deliveries from 15 stores in and around Paris. Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Executive Director of E-Commerce, Data and Digital Transformation at Carrefour, said:
Combining the strength of Carrefour’s convenience stores and the agility of the Uber Eats application will enable us to deliver customers’ everyday products in a very convenient and secure way. As we face this crisis, we have a duty to come up with new solutions and digital technology is collectively opening up a lot of possibilities.
The partnership intends to deliver food necessities, like bread, milk and vegetables, as well as toiletries. Orders can be placed via the Uber Eats app or on the phone between 11am and 11pm with delivery promised within 30 minutes of placing the order. The tie-up will be rolled out nationally over the coming weeks.
A similar deal has been struck in Spain with the country’s Galp service station chain, across 25 convenience stores in 15 cities in provinces including Barcelona, Valencia and Cádiz.
In the UK, Uber Eats last year signed a deal with Sainsbury’s, the country’s second largest chain, as well as with Walmart-owned ASDA, which was supposed to have merged with Sainsbury’s until the deal was blocked by the Competition and Mergers Authority (CMA).
Carrefour has also introduced its own Les Essentials Carrefour, a delivery service offerings baskets of basic foodstuffs at €5 per day per person. Similar programs are in place in the UK where Morrisons has teamed up with DPD to ship a food box offering £30 worth of basic, everyday groceries with a £5 delivery charge. Meanwhile Marks & Spencer, in advance of its scheduled delivery tie-up with Ocado this September, has followed suit with the same basic idea as Morrisons, but with a delivery charge of £3.99.
A lot more helps
Meanwhile the UK’s largest supermarket chain Tesco is adding 120,000 online delivery slots, bringing the weekly availability to 780,000. The firm has also added 200 new vans to its fleet and recruited another 2,500 drivers and over 5,000 pickers to beef up supply.
At present there are no slots open until 21 April, so the new schedule should help alleviate demand, although Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis says the new allocation will prioritise vulnerable customers:
We’re doing everything we can to increase the number of slots available and to support vulnerable people. Through a series of measures including more drivers, pickers and vans, we’ll expand the number of slots available each week; but this still isn’t enough to meet the demand. For this reason it is vital that customers who can come into stores and shop for themselves do so – so we can free up as many slots as possible for vulnerable people.
The government has asked our industry to help people that they have identified as particularly vulnerable and who don’t have their own support network. We will prioritise orders for these people and we will be in touch with them by email, as we receive the list from the government.
We want to help as many people as possible who truly need our delivery service, and so we have deliberately not restricted new online customers. We hope our existing online customers understand our approach, in these challenging circumstances. But to make it work, we also need your support: please ‘think before you click’ and shop in store, if you can do so safely.
Lewis also said that the initial panic buying that accompanied the outbreak of Coronavirus appeared to have died down. The firm has already limited online orders to 80 items in order to be able to make more deliveries to more customers.:
In fresh food, our stock levels have returned to almost normal levels, with plenty of fruit and vegetables available. In packaged groceries, the recovery will take a few more days – most stores will have stock of just about everything, but in a few product areas we may still have some gaps. To get our supply chain running smoothly again, we are focusing on simple pricing for single products, and have removed multi-buy promotions.
A good example of business models that are evolving to cope with changing circumstances.