Food delivery, freight and logistics: How Uber aims to move things around the world

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber, the ride-hailing pioneer, is set to go public on Friday with a valuation of around $82 billion, in the most highly valued stock introduction in years. But Uber says its real strength isn’t in being a taxi alternative. Instead, it is its ability to apply its vast data trove and routing software to rewrite how goods and people move from one place to another, using computer algorithms to remove what tech sees as inefficiencies in the world.

…Uber uses data gathered from Uber Eats, its food delivery service, to help predict food preparation time for its routes and provide food and restaurant recommendations for customers, the company has said. But the business has run into a litany of real-world issues — food not being ready on time for pickup, a lack of parking for drivers who run in to pick up orders, often resulting in parking tickets, and food that arrives to the customer late or cold.

…Just as critical will be Uber’s ability to spin large new businesses out of its data and routing savvy. UberEats, for instance, only accounted for 13 percent of Uber’s revenue last year. Now the company is weighing a revamp of the division as part of a broader effort called Eats 2020, according to a document reviewed by The Washington Post. In Uber’s vision, regular customers, who today average 1.5 orders per week on Uber Eats, could be compelled to order 19.5 meals weekly, suggesting nearly every meal would be prepared and delivered to them.

…The data gathered from Uber Eats is helping Uber predict food preparation time for its routes and provide food and restaurant recommendations for customers, the company said. And Uber has used customer ordering patterns to color menu selection, too, advising restaurants to start making, say, hamburgers in neighborhoods without any nearby burger joints.

…Eats prepared food delivery service faces fierce competitors at home and abroad, like venture capital-backed DoorDash and Rappi. And many drivers dislike food delivery because of the complexities of coordinating with sometimes slow-moving restaurants, parking and even hard-to-enter apartment complexes, among other complaints. To address their concerns, Eats drivers would be paid extra fees for unexpected delays such as backed-up restaurants or traffic, according to the Eats 2020 document.


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