UberEats hungry for Hong Kong customers as it launches food delivery service

Company hopes its one-million customer base in city will give it the edge over rivals like foodpanda and Deliveroo

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 10:26pm

Popular ride-hailing app Uber will aim for a slice of Hong Kong’s competitive food delivery market with the launch of UberEats at 10am on Friday on the back of its one-million customer base.

Uber is eyeing the HK$2 billion market in the city after launches in Singapore in May and Tokyo last month. It operates in 42 cities in 12 countries, including the United States, Australia and France.

But competition is fierce, with major market players foodpanda and Deliveroo already enjoying a piece of the action.

From Friday, customers can download a UberEats app to choose menus in various price ranges from 250 restaurant partners located from Wan Chai to Kennedy Town. About 20 per cent of them are exclusive partners of UberEats.

Horace Lam, general manager of UberEats Hong Kong, said that during the launch period there would be no delivery fee and no minimum order imposed on customers, who will be able to track the status of couriers on the app.

‘It’s basically not been touched’: foodpanda and Deliveroo join menagerie of online food delivery start-ups vying for Hong Kong’s nearly virgin market

In Singapore, UberEats promises a delivery time of 35 minutes with a S$3 (HK$17) charge.

“We use the initial period for marketing and fostering a change of eating habits in Hong Kong, so there will be no delivery charge. We will rely on commissions from restaurants to generate our income,” Lam said.

He assured customers that they took orders of any value. “We hope to offer delivery choices for the mass market. Even if a customer just orders a drink or a lunchbox worth only a few dozen dollars, we’ll still make deliveries.”

The firm said it welcomed anyone who wanted to join its delivery team, with training provided, including housewives, as all couriers were self-employed people who worked whenever they liked.

Ricky So, head of sales of UberEats Hong Kong, said its competitive edge rested with Uber’s one-million strong customer base in the city.

“Uber drivers can help promote our service. When Uber customers use the ride service, they can also make orders at UberEats,” he said.

So added that they aimed to sign up with more restaurants and extend their service to other areas in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. “Our target is to reach out to all people in Hong Kong,” he said.

Professor Leo Sin Yat-ming, director of the master of science marketing programme at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that as UberEats was a late player in the market it was crucial for it to generate a critical mass to make its business sustainable.

“Uber’s strong customer base doesn’t mean that UberEats enjoys an absolute advantage,” he said.

“The most important things are whether it can exercise good quality controls to ensure the food quality, the efficiency of deliveries and also sufficient manpower to take orders. These are the essential factors that will determine its survival.”