Uber Eats has started offering a priority delivery option that promises customers will receive their orders first when a driver has to make multiple stops.
While the available drivers on the service are typically more than enough for each to handle one delivery at a time, peak usage periods can result in one driver having to take food to more than one address.
That can increase the time you have to wait for an order, potentially ruining the experience that an on-demand service such as Uber Eats offers and leading you to consider whether driving yourself would not be a better option.
Priority delivery aims to address this for users who don’t want to wait for their orders, provided they are willing to pay a bit extra.
First launched in December 2021, the feature prioritises a driver’s order of delivery addresses to give preference to specific users.
To use the service, Uber charges customers a flat fee of R12 on top of the standard delivery and service fees.
MyBroadband spoke to Uber Eats Sub Saharan Africa’s operations head Charles Jhumbo Mhango to learn more about how the feature works.
Mhango said the option cuts time off the original estimated arrival time for delivery and ensures your order comes directly to you instead of the delivery person doing multiple deliveries before yours.
“The additional fee will ensure that the delivery of their order is fast-tracked and delivered first in a delivery order,” Mhango said.
He said the feature had seen “substantial” uptake in South Africa, with around one in every ten orders choosing priority delivery.
An important feature of the priority delivery option is that Uber won’t assign multiple orders with the option selected to the same delivery person.
However busy it may be, you will always be a driver’s first stop if he has several addresses to go to.
MyBroadband asked whether the feature was not detrimental to customers who chose not to use the priority option.
Mhango said it does not impact orders for the general user.
We also wanted to know how Uber managed to keep delivery times short when two addresses were in opposite directions from the restaurant.
Mhango explained there were certain restrictions in place on the app that ensured an overall positive experience for Uber Eats users.
“Generally, the first order is in the same direction as the second order, meaning that if a driver is allocated more than one delivery, it would be in the same area,” Mhango said.
“[That limits] the time it takes to travel from one delivery to the next.”
Mhango added that the company was potentially looking into including priority delivery with its Eats Pass subscription.
Testing Priority delivery
MyBroadband tested the service by placing identical orders with the same restaurant on two occasions — once with Burger King and another with KFC.
In both cases, Uber’s service was optimised enough to send the same courier for the deliveries to our office, minimising order delivery time for both the priority and non-priority options.
The couriers made the priority deliveries first and had nearly left the office before realising their second non-priority orders were at the same address.
Should the order without priority delivery be destined for another address, that customer could’ve waited longer.
But if more than one driver was available at the time of the order for different addresses, the system might have sent two separate drivers for each order.
One noteworthy observation was that the priority delivery fee also factored into the final amount used to calculate the tip.