Watch out, Amazon — you’re not the only tech giant looking to dominate the restaurant delivery business.
Uber has been adding markets to its relatively new UberEATS meal delivery service for the past few months, and now job postings uncovered by GeekWire indicate that the ride-hailing company is getting ready for a broader expansion into restaurant delivery. The job descriptions indicate at least six more U.S. cities will soon get the service, including Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Miami.
That’s building on the nine markets where the service is already available. It’s a pretty quick rollout, considering the service was only available in four markets — Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Barcelona, Spain — five months ago.
An Uber spokesperson declined to comment, and it’s unclear from the job postings when the service will be ready to launch in the new markets.
One Uber driver in Seattle told GeekWire the company sent out an email looking for volunteers to test drive a new service that will launch here soon, but the email didn’t say what it was. Separately, another tipster says Uber food delivery is slated to launch in Seattle on Oct. 1, and a select group of Uber drivers in Seattle have already gone through training.
According to the job postings, the company is looking for UberEATS general managers in the new cities who will run experiments, work with local restaurants and figure out all the logistics before the service can go live.
“Come help us build the best on-demand food delivery service in Seattle!” one Uber job post reads.
The expansion, particularly into Seattle, will position the ride-sharing company against giants like Amazon that have been rolling out their own restaurant delivery services. Amazon’s free one-hour Prime Now restaurant delivery offering launched first in Seattle earlier this month, but the company seems to be eying a broader rollout.
Uber’s model is similar to what we’ve seen from these kinds of businesses before, but with small differences that let the company take advantage of its already massive network of crowdsourced drivers.
The main difference is that restaurants prepare UberEATS food before you order it and then distribute plates to various drivers. That means it can deliver food faster since it’s already on the road, but it’s also much less flexible than other providers.
The company uses a rotating menu that lets you choose between about three dishes from local restaurants each day. Plates aren’t customizable and can only be ordered during set lunch hours. UberEATS also won’t deliver the food to your front door. Instead, you order food through the same app you use to hail a ride and then meet a driver at the curb to pick up your meal within 10 minutes. Delivery in other markets where it’s already available costs a flat rate of $3, plus the cost of the food, which is usually between $8 and $15.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently talked about the service on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The restaurant delivery space has long been a challenging and crowded market. There are a plethora of options in Seattle alone, including Bitesquad, Munchery, Lish, GrubHub and Postmates — just to name a few.
Amazon had a leg up on the competition when it entered the market a few weeks ago because it drops off more than just hot meals, offering one- or two-hour delivery on everything from electronics to groceries and alcohol.
But with Uber’s vast user base and network of drivers, it looks like Amazon might have just found an equally capable opponent.