There is no doubt in my mind that being able to order food online and have it arrive at your home or business half an hour later is a wonderful thing, but not all services get it right, and some get things badly wrong. We collectively decided in our office that we'd use each service daily for 1 month and review the performance and shortcomings of each on this blog. This isn't a conventional tech related article but we think its something of interest. We'll go through each service provider in the order we tested them and provide an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each service, finally we'll summarise the three and give our views. If you find this article useful and interesting then please rate it.
Now Deliveroo is probably the best known provider in the market, and I do like the branding even if its a little juvenile, but how about the actual service?
Deliveroo has a phone App, and a website, both of which work fine. You are required to supply your email address and phone number (which can be a landline which is great). The entire registration journey was simple to follow and easy to do.
The selection of outlets available via Deliveroo is reasonable (we're in the city centre here) and the general layout and operation of the website is good.
Placing an order is a simple matter of selecting the restaurant, selecting food by adding it to a basket and then checking it out. Some restaurants allow changes to food items such as add/remove sauces, topping, and so on, but some don't and that's more the restaurant than deliveroo's fault.
Once the order is placed, your taken to a map showing the outlet and your home/office which updates every few seconds. There can be a significant delay between the ordering and the assignment of a rider, the rider arriving at the restaurant and any changes on the map, and this is because delivery agents (riders) can pick and choose which delivery they will take, meaning the restaurants further out can be waiting literally HOURS for someone to transport your food. Regardless, Deliveroo keeps you informed of the process so you know when someone has taken the job and when the food is actually collected, after which the map will update showing the location of the agent (rider) and this is really helpful in judging arrival time.
The competence of the delivery agents is extremely variable with some unable to read street signs and house numbers whilst others able to quickly arrive at the correct premises. In our test period we found that around 80% of agents found the property quickly and easily (it is very obvious and clearly marked) with the other 20% ranging from wandering around, going to the wrong premises and even just dumping the food and running after marking it delivered. There is no way on Deliveroo to rate the agent (rider) or even the restaurant so deliveroo has no way to track performance and penalise those who fail miserably and this I think is an area that needs urgent improvement.
In the event that the agent just cut and run, or delivered the wrong order, Deliveroo were quick to respond and just refunded our order, which was great for us but I'm not sure if that information is fed back into the network to penalise the rider or outlet for their respective cockup.
A latecomer to the food delivery business, Ubereats seeks to capitalise on its taxi business by using that same resource to deliver food, and why not. The UberEats website rejects our email address as 'invalid' even though its not of course, and further demands a mobile phone number before it will proceed. We used an iPad Pro with a SIM card as the mobile number, and had to register up a gmail account to get past the invalid email nonsense. Poor design and coding aside we eventually managed to get registered and a text message was sent to our iPad with a code to verify and we're up and running. This 'verification code' isn't a one off, you'll be hassled to enter it time and time again for some unfathomable reason and this is a real pain.
The ordering process is very similar to Deliveroo, with a matrix of restaurants to select, food items to select and then the old basket add before checkout. One thing you do notice with UberEats is the multiple entries for the same restaurant at a different location. For McDonalds as an example we have 6 different listings for 6 different locations, and we have to choose which one we want. That makes no sense. Surely we should have one listing and UberEats Decides which outlet to order from based on distance?
After we've check'ed out were presented with a similar screen to deliveroo showing the outlet and delivery agent and again this map updates periodically. As with Deliveroo UberEats suffers the same loooong delays on some deliveries simply because they don't have enough resource and allow delivery agents to pick and choose what they collect and deliver, but unlike Deiveroo, UberEats doesn't keep you informed of the process and your just left watching the map with the expected delivery time shifting further into the future with each update. In one instance we were waiting just over 2 hours for a delivery and there's no way to cancel it and no indication as to the holdup. This can be frustrating especially when your dinner break is an hour between 12:00 and 13:00.
When considering delivery agents and their competence, UberEats was slightly better than Deliveroo with approximately 90% of agents finding the location and delivering the food quickly and easily. The remaining 10% just drove into the street and tried to call the mobile number that we'd been forced to use during registration, this is as I said before a SIM card in an iPad Pro so its not going to ring no matter how many times you call it. Some agents eventually prized themselves out of their cars and came to the gate whereas others just marked the food as delivered and drove off. UberEats DOES have a system to rate the delivery agent AND the restaurant and that's awesome, but, you don't get to choose who you have deliver the next order. When ordering your shown the rating of the delivery agent, but whether its 50% or 99% is pot luck and you don't get a say in it. The rating is however quite accurate and those with a low rating were indeed the ones who didn't show up or delivered our food elsewhere. One guy actually refused to come through our gate claiming he had a phobia of gates, but seriously how can you delivery food to the door when you can't get through a gate?
When there was a cockup, UberEats was nearly impossible to reach with us eventually having to leave a message via their website, but they did eventually get back to us and credit the account for the errors. The website is also under development with links like FAQs taking you to a 404 not found page.
One point to note here, UberEats has absolutely no facility to change the mobile number you used when your signed up. We would have loved to change that to the office landline so we'd be able to receive calls, but we can't and we're stuck with a number from an iPad pro.
Just-eat has been around for a while now and tends to offer restaurants that are further out of town and not available on the other two which is nice. Just-eat unlike Deliveroo and UberEats is not limited to city centre restaurants and for that we're grateful.
The sign-up process was painless and unlike UberEats it accepted our email address and allowed us to enter a landline. The range of restaurants was reasonable and accessing them was also ok. The ordering process is a little more clunky than the other two but it's certainly do-able once you get used to having to 'Add' a subtraction to an order. The checkout process was fine but the post order tracking was less comprehensive. There was delivery tracking once it left the restaurant for some outlets and that seemed to work well but not for all. Each restaurant will use its own people to make the delivery so just-eat is simply the order taker, not the deliverer.
Delivery times were rarely what was quoted with an hour being the norm, but Just-eat does allow you to enter a delivery 'note' into which we could enter "Press door phone and side entrance" which was a neat future and meant that some delivery agents actually came direct to us without going to reception first. Just-eat has a rating system allowing us to rate both the food and delivery time but not the delivery agent and its not immediately obvious how to get to this screen.
Just-eat does allow you to have more than one address which we found especially useful so we could use the same account for both office and home whereas the other two needed a separate account for each that was awkward to use and was unable to be used with their APPs.
Just-eat provide online chat and a number to call when it all goes wrong and they were fairly quick to respond and issued a refund where needed.
Notwithstanding the delivery times and lack of tracking, we felt Just-eat did ok and we'd certainly use them again.
In order to correctly study the price differences between services we found a restaurant that is on all three services, and we ordered the exact same items on each, here's how they compare...
|Service||Food Cost||Delivery Charge||Total|
On a single order your looking at a saving of £2.80 (or 11%) when selecting UberEats over Deliveroo, but over a year of ordering assuming you're spending £50 a week on deliveries over 48 weeks you would save £264. Its worth noting at this point that Deliveroo offers a monthly payment plan of £11.49 which then gives free delivery on all orders (delivered by Deliveroo) and Ubereats has for months been suggesting its going to offer something similar. If your a regular buyer then this may work out in your favour but we didn't take this option and its not included in the table above. If you are considering such an inclusive delivery option then check out the small print because there could be restrictions that are going to make it less economic.
Some studies we've read suggest that 70% of restaurant business will be via delivery, but there's no guarantee and the services above are going to be the ones leveraging that change but is it all good news? Well not for the local Pizza, Chinese or Indian takeaway's who traditionally dominated the home delivery market with their own drivers, now relegated to the sidelines by the big three, and we're hearing of restaurant owners who are being pressured into paying the big three to delivery their food over and above the delivery fee that we're paying, but for us as consumers it can only be good.
Whichever you prefer, you may well have to use all three because of the exclusive deals done by each. For example McDonalds is exclusively UberEats, BurgerKing is UberEats and KFC is Just-Eat and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. Independents are often represented on two or more as this makes most sense.
From an ecological perspective, Deliveroo is mostly riders on bicycles, whereas Ubereats is mostly cars claiming to be bicycles. Just-Eat is almost always vehicles. I would hope that in the future, the use of bicycles and electric vehicles would be an order option or be otherwise highlighted as an initiative. Likewise, all three should do their best to leverage a reduction in plastic packaging and waste, highlighting those restaurants who comply etc.
None of these services allow ordering from more than one restaurant at a time. When you have a city centre environment and our office we often found some people wanted food A and others food B but we could only order one. This wouldn't seem to be an impossible issue to solve and would give one provider a lead over the other but no sign of it yet.
We also found the 'delay' before anything was delivered to be annoying but understandable. A suggestion here would be to have a realistic delivery time based on capacity and an option to cancel the order if its too far in the future.
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