Meal delivery firms branch out into groceries during crisis

Meal delivery firms branch out into groceries during crisis
A deliveryman for Uber Eats rides a bike in Paris during a lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Paris, France, on April, 1, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

Uber Eats and Delivery Hero are expanding from providing restaurant meals into supplying groceries to customers stuck at home during lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Uber Eats said on Wednesday it is teaming up with French supermarket group Carrefour for a new delivery service aimed at helping Parisians buy essential goods and food, and also has similar plans in Spain and Brazil.

Berlin-based online marketplace Delivery Hero has also made changes to its operations spanning more than 40 countries to help get groceries to customers.

Supermarkets remain open in France and elsewhere, though many have restricted the number of shoppers who can enter for safety reasons, while many customers are staying home to avoid catching or spreading infection.

Carrefour and Uber Eats' new service will start with around 15 stores in Paris and the surrounding region on April 6, before being rolled out nationwide. It allow users to choose a Carrefour convenience store on the Uber Eats app or website.

They can also order products by phone from 11 am to 11 pm, including everyday grocery shopping as well as hygiene and cleaning products. Customers will also be able to get deliveries at home within 30 minutes on average.

Uber Eats will waive delivery fees on all Carrefour orders during the month of April.

Carrefour had already been exploring options of this kind before the coronavirus crisis, as supermarket groups face competition from the likes of Amazon.

Last year, it partnered with Spanish start-up Glovo to provide a fast home delivery services and collaborates with Delivery Hero in Taiwan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Fast delivery

In addition to supplying prepared meals, Delivery Hero has set up more than 50 "dark stores" internationally to exploit its warehouse capacity and network of riders to help address increased demand for cupboard staples.

"They are optimised for a very fast delivery of day-to-day goods," Johannes Langguth, senior director, finance systems at Delivery Hero, told Reuters.

The aim is to deliver in less than 20 minutes, faster than restaurant meals because no time is needed for cooking, he added.

In addition to Carrefour, it also works with other supermarkets to deliver groceries, such as with ICA in Sweden and Walmart in Argentina.


In Britain, Deliveroo announced two services last month to help people who are self-isolating because of the coronavirus - the first supplying essentials, such as tinned goods, pasta and household items, and the second, a tie-up with Marks & Spencer's stores on BP forecourts.

Goods such as toilet paper and tissues or tinned tuna are also available for delivery via Deliveroo from Casino-owned Franprix stores in Paris.

For Uber, the grocery delivery operation could help cushion its business against the reduced demand for car rides.

In Spain, Uber Eats said it was partnering with Galp, an energy and gas station group, to provide home deliveries of cleaning products and toiletries from its convenience stores.

In Brazil, Uber Eats will also work with pharmacies, convenience stores and pet shops to get supplies flowing.

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