Collective Effort by Uber Eats
By Shafiya Nawzer
COVID-19 and the associated restrictions imposed by the Government have caught most industries and citizens off guard, with little or no time to prepare for its effects. During the lockdown, online food and grocery deliveries became one of the lifelines that people came to depend on. Even now, although the curfew has been lifted, many still prefer ordering online, and avoid stepping outside altogether.
This has created an arduous situation for the food and beverage industry, which was at a standstill during the islandwide curfew. However, the novel coronavirus opened up opportunities to the food and grocery delivery sector.
With the two possible caveats of consumers being eager to avoid unnecessary expenses during this period of economic uncertainty and a potential lack of transparency on how food is prepared, ordering food online seems to have become a tiny window into the joy of food we had become so accustomed to before the lockdown.
The reasons to opt for online food delivery services are plentiful; whether it’s simply ordering groceries online to avoid the human interaction inherent in going to the supermarket or corner shop, or having your favorite dish delivered to your doorstep.
Uber Eats has been a pioneer in the food delivery service in Sri Lanka, for the past couple of months they have been operating with deliveries of essentials, groceries and food. Uber Eats has brought in a new era of food delivery, making it simpler and more effective with modern approaches and processes, and maintaining food safety has always been crucial to them.
Uber Eats introduced many new features on their platform, including a tipping system to support restaurants and delivery partners in the time of crisis, the delivery of essential items such as groceries and household products, and allowing customers to use Instagram to order directly from the restaurants for delivery through Uber Eats.
Bhavna Dadlani, Lead of Uber Eats Sri Lanka, spoke to Ceylon Today about the latest updates and the safety guidelines followed by Uber Eats.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
Can you explain the latest features and how they work?
A: Apart from our usual food delivery features, we recently launched a bouquet of new measures to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local restaurant industry – namely, the ‘Leave at Door Delivery’ option, ‘Share This Delivery’, ‘In-app Tipping’ feature and the Instagram order.
Following health precautions, the ‘Leave at Door Delivery’ enables contactless delivery, where users can now request their deliveries to be left on their doorsteps when placing an order. This would eliminate direct contact between users and delivery partners, allowing both parties to practice safe social distancing.
After considering several requests from our users to help support the restaurant industry during this crisis, we introduced the tipping feature, allowing users to contribute and support restaurants and delivery partners by choosing to tip both parties and support them financially. On the Checkout page, users can select the option at the top of the page to tip Rs 150 to their favourite restaurants/stores and anywhere upwards of Rs 20 to the delivery partners that complete their food orders at the bottom of the page. All tips will be directly credited to the accounts of restaurant and delivery partners.
We also linked up with Instagram to help support small and independent restaurants, which are struggling during the ongoing lockdown. Uber Eats recognises the numerous challenges that come with navigating a business through these unpredictable times, which is why we linked ourselves to the Instagram platform to help businesses activate the ‘Order Food’ button from their Instagram profiles and ‘Order Food’ stickers in their stories, directly with the app.
These two Instagram features will direct users to the restaurant’s specific Uber Eats menu, enabling a seamless order experience for consumers. Restaurants will also be able to re-share these stickers to their own stories to help drive awareness of community support for the industry.
What precautionary measures have been undertaken for the safety of your restaurant partners, drivers and customers when delivering?
A: Our biggest concern is the safety of our restaurant partners, courier partners and our consumers. Safety is essential to Uber and it’s at the heart of everything we do. We continue to work closely with public health authorities to keep our community safe. As social distancing becomes more commonplace, we remind all Uber Eats users that they can request orders to be left on their doorsteps to facilitate a contactless delivery. During deliveries, our partners have been provided with masks and sanitizers, along with a special safety training exercise via telephone, to ensure hygiene and safety standards for themselves and the community at large.
We continuously send messages to our delivery partners through in-app messages and emails, reminding them of basic steps they can take to help prevent the spread of the virus from advice drawn from public health authorities. We also support delivery partners who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine by a public health authority, by offering compensation for a period of up to 14 days.
How does the in-app tipping feature work and how does it benefit restaurants and drivers?
A: The pandemic has impacted the lives of many Sri Lankans, including our delivery and restaurant partners. The reasoning behind the introduction of the tipping feature was to help support the industry during this pandemic, as I mentioned before. At the checkout page, the tipping feature allows users to tip
Rs 150 to restaurants/stores they order from and an amount of their choice upwards of Rs 20 to the delivery partners that complete the order.
We believe a collective effort by Uber Eats, restaurant and delivery partners, as well as our users, showcase both solidarity and provides support for the industry when they need it the most.
Uber Eats has become an application that people almost use everyday. What are some ways you are hoping to improve customer service?
A: Providing consumers with a consistent and world-class experience is a key focus of our business. Our technology allows consumers to engage with us directly through the Uber Eats app – be it through a message, chat or call. Our in-app survey and ratings system also helps us continuously gauge consumer sentiment – the feedback of which is often used to optimise local services and even launch new features.
Anything else you’d like to add?
A: As an organisation, we are committed to helping Sri Lanka fight the pandemic and bounce back stronger than ever. With a dedicated focus on enhancing safety and enabling positive social impact, I am proud to mention that Uber continues to support Sri Lanka after having:
Contributed Rs 8.5 million in free rides to our brave frontline healthcare workers via UberMedic;
Committed Rs 10 million worth of safety supplies to driver partners in partnership with Dettol; and
Enabled immediate earning opportunities to thousands of daily wage earners, restaurants and more that depend on us by means of business revenue, new features and also compensation.