E-commerce News South Africa

Uber Eats to grow 'dark' grocery store concept in SA

Uber Eats has launched a 'dark' grocery store, called Uber Eats Market, in partnership with Smart Kitchen Co. The grocery store opened its virtual doors in August 2022 piloting in some areas of Cape Town, and is now available in nine locations across Johannesburg and Cape Town offering grocery items, such as alternative dairy products and meats, that customers would normally find in a commercial store.
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"We decided to work with Smart Kitchen Co. to allow us to offer a wider selection to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers. We also wanted to trial an initiative that would truly allow us to experiment and tap into the power of the platform to enable a better grocery shopping experience," said Cikida Gcali-Mabusela, general manager for grocery and new verticals for Uber Eats sub-Saharan Africa.

"Since going live on the app, the store has become the highest-performing non-restaurant store on the app, with 149% growth month on month. User response is a testament that consumers appreciate the convenience of getting anything they need within minutes at the touch of a button,” she said.

The delivery company described the move as its debut into quick commerce, and Gcali-Mabusela noted that the quick commerce trend has seen explosive growth worldwide in recent years, and is now taking off in South Africa. She is confident that Uber Eats can be a key driver of this growth as the company gears itself to be a "leading delivery platform" by embracing the shift to a virtual mall concept in the country.

Diversifying driver earnings: R1.9m from top box advertising

In addition to announcing its Uber Eats Market strategy, the company also published the results of its 2022 Earners Survey, which showed that 88% of delivery people use the platform as a primary source of earnings. According to the report, the two main reasons why drivers choose to operate their business on the Uber Eats App include the flexibility and freedom that comes with being an independent contractor (86%); and the economic opportunity it brings (65%).

Charles Mhango, head of operations for Uber Eats sub-Saharan Africa said, “The feedback from delivery people is one of our biggest sources to understanding the realities that they face. It also helps us to be responsive in a way that is meaningful to them.

“This year’s survey is significant because it came at a time when we implemented various features and initiatives as our way of optimising the platform to best suit the needs of delivery people. Some of these include price increases to help with the rising cost of living, new and improved safety interventions, as well partnering with industry-leading organisations to further improve earnings.”

One such organisation is top box delivery bike media advertiser MotionAds, which provides delivery people with an opportunity to earn more money through top box advertising in South Africa. Since the initiative went live in April 2022, Uber Eats has seen a 232% uptake rate of delivery people who have opted in, with over R1.9m of revenue earned by delivery people. Available in six cities across South Africa, these branded top boxes have travelled 6,8 million kilometres to give brands additional exposure.

Mhango added, “We are humbled by the positive feedback from delivery people on our continuous efforts to maximise their earnings. While we are proud of the strides made, we know there is still a lot more work to do. We will be launching an exciting programme for delivery people this December called Uber Eats Pro. The programme is designed to recognise their efforts by rewarding them with points that may eventually be redeemed.

Ramping up driver safety

In addition to supporting the earning generation capabilities of delivery people and helping them get the most out of their time on the road, Uber Eats said it understands that they face numerous risks and challenges. While delivery people have indicated through the survey that they feel safer and know about the safety features, Uber Eats said it will continue addressing safety risks.

To counter these risks, the business has over time implemented some additional safety features including an in-app private emergency assistance button, helmet detection, safety checklist, and 24/7 in-app support.

“Additionally, delivery people have Partner Injury Protection provided by AIG Insurance which provides on-trip cover from the time of acceptance of a delivery request. They also have access to the emergency contacts feature, which will be used by Uber’s Incident Response Team to contact the delivery person's next of kin in case of an accident and/or for insurance purposes,” said Mhango.

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