UberEats launches in Singapore with free delivery

Gone are the days when our food delivery options were just limited to McDonald's or Pizza Hut. Those of us who love our FoodPanda and Deliveroo are in for a new treat: UberEats has arrived in Singapore.

Looking at the number of food delivery options available to the residents of Singapore, an outsider would be forgiven for thinking eating out in this city is an immensely inconvenient endeavour. But this is an island dotted with F&B outlets catering to different palates and a range of budgets. So, why do we love our food delivery services so much?

Laziness. And, I'm a prime example.

I use a food delivery service at least once a week. Why? Because I can't be bothered to cook, and heading out to eat involves changing out of my PJs and, at the very least, combing my hair. For $20, I can have a pork katsu-don and a soft-shell crab handroll delivered to my doorstep; I just need to be dressed decently enough to answer it. I'm certain there are many like me.

In March, FoodPanda revealed that it recorded a 400 per cent growth in revenue compared to the previous year. Newcomer Deliveroo, which has recently partnered with Grab to offer rebates to Grab's customers, grew its fleet of delivery riders from 5 to 550 four months after its launch here - an astounding 110 times increase in manpower. If Uber still wants a slice of the action now, clearly, the company believes the pie is big enough for another player.

"UberEats seeks to deliver the same core experience as the Uber app. Singapore is the 15th market in the world and the first in Asia. We are not after exclusivity - rather, we aim to deliver such a great experience and so many choices that we become the go-to app for food delivery here," says Avram Rampersaud, Head of UberEats Singapore.

Singapore is the first city in Asia to test this service. An important testbed for the company, Singapore was also the first to test offerings such as UberX.

"If Uber is good at anything, it's moving people and things from Point A to Point B. With UberEats, drivers now have another option to utilise their time in their cars more effectively," says Oscar Peppitt, Head of Regional Expansion of Uber. At the moment, UberEats' delivery fleet consists of both partner drivers and a dedicated group of despatch motorcyclists. Drivers are given the option to join the programme. The company is still in the midst of testing different payment structures and incentives to figure out how UberEats can best benefit all parties concerned.

But how will UberEats be different from FoodPanda and Deliveroo? And, how will we, the consumers, benefit from this new service?

How UberEats works

As a standalone app, UberEats pretty much functions like your standard food delivery app. You can either let the app detect your location or enter your delivery address manually. Select from the restaurants that deliver to your location and make your order.

You can sign in to the UberEats app using your Uber profile and charge your purchases to the credit card on file. For this launch period, UberEats will waive the $3 delivery fee.

There are over 100 restaurants that have signed up with UberEats, including a number that are not yet available on FoodPanda and Deliveroo such as, Burnt Ends, Pluck, Fort by Maison Ikoku and Vatos Urban Tacos.

"For me, working with UberEats is a natural choice. The company is creative, trustworthy, and most importantly, I trust they will deliver Burnt Ends' food to the customer before it gets cold and shit," says Chef Dave Pynt. Both Pluck and Burnt Ends will be offering a selection of their menus on UberEats, stuff that keeps well during the delivery process. "We've got to be smart about the dishes we offer on the app. As chefs, preparing our food for delivery isn't a challenge; we just have to figure out the best way to do it," says Chef Brandon Teo of Pluck.

Coming up …

From the launch list of restaurants, it seems that UberEats is trying to stand out from the competition by offering food from both upmarket and niche F&B establishments. However, Rampersaud says the company will eventually go across all price points and offer the service to areas outside of the CBD to satisfy as many customers as possible.

Will we bite But only serving the central and downtown areas at this point in time may prove to be a obstacle in driving user growth since a considerable number of Singaporeans live away from the city areas.

"I order in food using FoodPanda because I'm too tired to cook and I don't want McDonald's," says Ginny Chang, a sales manager. "This usually happens after I get home after long day. I don't see how useful UberEats is going to be for me if it doesn't deliver to Sengkang."

Chang also points out that to splash out on "atas" (Singlish for high-class) food when all she wants is to eat something in front of the TV seems a tad bit extravagant. "And, if I'm planning to eat food from Burnt Ends, of course dining at the restaurant itself completes the experience!"

UberEats delivers the food and saves you the trouble of stepping outside of your house, but it cannot deliver the experience and the atmosphere one may come to expect for the prices he pays when dining at a restaurant like Burnt Ends. In this case, can convenience trump the dining experience?

Or, given that it has cars at its disposal, UberEats could also build a niche in festive food deliveries? For example, during Christmas when people want to order a turkey or a gingerbread house from a hotel for their house parties but may not have the time to pick up their orders in person.

With the wide coverage of FoodPanda and the eclectic offerings of Deliveroo, it remains to be seen how UberEats will surge ahead of its competitors.

Finally, will brand loyalty to Uber drive up the appetite for UberEats then?

Says Singaporean actor Hossan Leong who's well-known for his support for Uber, "It doesn't matter who delivers my food as long as the service is good and the restaurants suit my palate and wallet. But I've been using Deliveroo in recent times and have no complaints. Let's see what UberEats serves up."

As a disruptor, Uber is definitely more than comfortable with shaking things up a little. As consumers, we can now rub our hands in anticipation of the mouthwatering deals that await us as all 3 players fight it out for a place in our stomachs, hearts, and wallets.

Material World is a women’s lifestyle website started by four former magazine editors specialising in beauty, lifestyle, and self-improvement.