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Editorial: Uber Eats your delivery business for lunch


You may already be aware that Uber launched its food delivery service in London last week. That’s takeaway food and restaurant orders, as opposed to grocery delivery – although if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know I wrote about Amazon launching a grocery service in London in my column last week.
If you’re reading this anywhere that isn’t London, I’d happily forgive you for grumbling about the media being so London centric. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles, or gets delivered.

I digress.

Uber Eats can be seen as the forerunner to a broadening of the Uber delivery scope. After all, if you’ve developed tech – and a business model – to allow you to efficiently get people from A to B, why not extend that out to inanimate objects?

So there it is … we’ve seen the future. It happened last week. Uber has put its first stake in the ground with food delivery and by so doing sounded the death knell for the domestic carrier industry as we know it.

Well, that’s what some people might have you believe. But that’s not necessarily what’s about to happen. Nor, for that matter, should one get too excited at the prospect of many rules and regulations getting in the way of Uber making inroads into the delivery sector; regulation is important, but it’s a barrier to market entry not a block.

The likeliest outcome for the parcel world can be seen in the detail of the Uber Eats launch – it is offering home delivery of food from establishments that would not otherwise be offering home delivered takeaway.

It’s growing the market.

I had an interesting conversation with Chris Burns, the MD of DA Systems, based in Buckinghamshire, about this very topic, and it was nice to talk to someone who sees things the way I do.

Should we expect to see Uber break into the parcel delivery market? Yes. Absolutely.

Is that bad news for the carriers? Not necessarily.

Does anyone really think an established retailer with a hard-won reputation is going to hand off delivery to a virtual company staffed entirely by self-employed drivers for whom parcels are but one string to their bow? Well, I should hope not.

However, there are still lots of smaller, independent retailers out there who would love a piece of the same-day delivery action, but aren’t in a position to offer it as things stand today. They are the likely beneficiaries of a mass market Uber delivery offering, such as the oft discussed Uber Rush.

Plenty of black cab drivers in London (yes, I know … London again) complain about what Uber has done to the market. But press them and they will also admit that there are people using Uber who would never have used a black cab anyway.

Growing the market can only be a good thing. And to celebrate, why not order yourself a kebab to be delivered straight to your home or office via Uber Eats. But only if you’re in the London – everyone else … you’ll have to fend for yourselves I’m afraid.

Elsewhere in eDelivery, research tells us that recent moves to increase minimum order values for free delivery are among factors increasing the fickle nature of UK shoppers.

We have a summary of the main themes from the Nordic Delivery Conference, where everyone was seemingly obsessed with the question of robots and automation. A happy medium needs to be struck here, of course, but for now debates roll on.

We continue our focus on click-and-collect by dusting off a feature from the magazine archive that was written in the wake of the click-and-collect saved Christmas era. Could it do that again if called upon though?

And finally, we couldn’t resist a story about three sea otters being shipped by FedEx from Alaska to France.

Regardless of animal antics, if you haven’t subscribed to eDelivery yet we’d love it if you did. You’ll get a weekly newsletter summarising the main stories we’ve covered, and we’ll keep you informed of other big announcements. But we won’t spam you – you don’t like spam, do you? We don’t. You’ll find details on subscribing here. And if you’re not receiving a copy of the magazine you’ll find details on that too.

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