By Jonathan Learmont
Online food delivery is familiar to most of us: whether you’re feeling lazy or just fancy a treat, it’s now easier than ever to order takeaways from a huge range, just by using a free app. As the demand for deliveries keeps growing, it is expected that its market will increase by 10% each year.
As a result of this situation, Deliveroo, one of the biggest food couriers, is looking to integrate better with restaurants in order to get the edge going forward. In order to do so, they have opened multiple metal, shipping containers in the car parks and grimy spots in east London, which house gourmet cooking for those restaurants that don’t want to open expensive premises. These dark boxes, known as Rooboxes and officially branded as ‘Deliveroo Editions’, put the restaurants’ chefs in poorly lit prefabricated kitchens – they often have to work with the door wide open, all with the aim of getting the meals closer to the clients in Canary Wharf.
Initially this seems like a recipe for success for both parties, but chefs need to be willing to work in poor conditions for this to be sustainable. Sourdough pizza business Franco Manca has paid chefs extra for working in Deliveroo Editions while they test it, but financial incentives may struggle to keep them there. In fact, the structures they have to work in remain unconvincing as long term solutions to Deliveroo’s aims – they are prone to damage and heating them is hugely inefficient and costly. In addition, they have run into backlash from several London councils, due to the excessive noise residents are exposed to.
Additionally, the expansion in London raises questions as to whether Deliveroo can hire enough riders. In early October, there was a 25-rider strike in Bristol over wages – £3.75 instead of £4.25 was being paid per delivery between 5pm and 10pm. This is not the first of many disputes from Deliveroo riders over their pay and conditions, which is ruining the company’s reputation as an employer.
Deliveroo is not lacking for competitors either. Among the bigger threats to Deliveroo is UberEATs, which was launched in London in 2016 and offers a very similar choice. However, no minimum orders are required alongside a much greater emphasis on short delivery time. Amazon Restaurants, a service provided by global ecommerce behemoth Amazon, is another competitor, being exclusive to Amazon Prime customers but providing free delivery.
While the Rooboxes could still be a successful move for Deliveroo, the company needs to build upon and not settle on this change, as the Rooboxed will not be enough of an advantage to persuade current and future customers not to switch company in the near future.