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Uber evolves beyond rides

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Since launching UberEATS six months ago, the company has learned some interesting insights into South African eating habits. JAMBU PALANIAPPAN, Regional General Manager for UberEATS in EMEA looks into the facts to do with eater’ and restaurants using the app.

First, Uber made it simpler for South Africans to get around. Next, we applied the concept of getting a ride at the touch of a button to bringing South Africans their favourite meals at their fingertips.

In the six months since UberEATS first launched in the country, we have learnt some fascinating insights into the habits and appetites of South Africans. You’re a classic bunch, with the most-ordered dish for 2017 being the cheeseburger. As UberEATS has food options to match all budgets, we have noticed certain trends throughout an average week.

Efficient businesspeople are pre-scheduling breakfast orders to arrive at work at the same time they do and offices are ordering in food or coffee for their business meetings. However, not everyone in the office is indulging. Many are turning away from canteen food in favour of ordering a healthy, nutritionally-balanced lunch!

UberEATS is also changing the way South Africans entertain. Instead of slaving over the stove and dirtying a sink of dishes, groups of friends are ordering in large quantities of small dishes to share on Friday and Saturday nights. Sundays are times when families gather, often ordering in their favourites for the Sunday night movie.

Observant eaters cottoned on to the fact that they are now able to order alcohol, something that we’ve not officially announced. However, eaters are responding well to this offering, requesting drinks for dinner parties and sun downers. Like most of our competitors one is able to order alcohol through UberEATS if it’s on the restaurant’s menu, and they have a ‘off premise license’. Uber has a strict policy that ID must be provided to the courier upon delivery.

Our largest order was over R6000, ordered by a generous company for an in office celebration, which is unsurprising as many businesses use the app to cater for corporate events.  In the first 2 months over 100 000 eaters downloaded the app so far.

Over 700 local restaurants are also benefitting from the ease of UberEATS as they use its intelligence for everything, from serving their customers better to deciding on the location of their next store. We have, for example, already seen how successful some businesses that are not ‘restaurant based’ have been. Restaurants are now exploring fascinating new business models, such as running their entire business online.

Take Bruno Persic for example. Persic, Joint MD at Philly Cheesesteak Co. recognises the potential of the UberEATS app, “we want to be part of the next big thing in food,” says Persic. “After meeting with the UberEATS team we decided to put the idea of a revolutionary “Digital Kitchen” into action. Essentially a digital kitchen is the same restaurant as Philly Cheesesteak Co. without the traditional front of house “dining area”. The key benefit being able to service an area like Sandton without opening a full service restaurant with the burden of exorbitantly high retail rentals of shopping malls or high streets. We honestly believe the Digital Kitchen concept will add a new dimension to dining convenience.”

Now, with the help of a new ‘restaurant manager’ restaurants are able to take their businesses to the next level. The newly unveiled UberEATS Restaurant Manager is becoming the one place restaurants need to go to manage and grow their business. As a first for South Africa and by partnering with UberEATS, restaurants have access to real-time data, which gives them access to their sales, performance, and customer sentiment data in an easy-to-understand format.

They see visualizations of key insights, such as customer satisfaction, most and least popular dishes, average prep time and sales by day. None of our competitors offer this kind of in-depth insight, and one can only begin to imagine the benefits this provides to restaurant owners. It means no more ‘guestimates’ – restaurant owners can make decisions on real data that is easily picked up and understood. Owners can now see exactly when they are busiest and need more support, whether a new menu is going down well, or if a price change is impacting sales.

With some restaurants increasing their sales by 20-50%, there is no doubt that UberEATS is great for business. Restaurants are employing extra chefs and runners specifically to meet the extra demand that UberEATS is generating. We have also welcomed over 1000 courier partners since our launch in South Africa. We’re just overwhelmed by our success and what a great, new form of economic opportunity UberEATS is providing in South Africa, a country with an unemployment rate as high as 26.5%¹.

UberEATS will continue to evolve to suit the needs of the eater and restaurants that use the App. Our data helps us to understand which areas are more popular at different times of day and week, which we communicate to our courier partners accordingly in real-time. The impact of the weather has been a great learning curve for us, as we learn how to manage the increase in demand while prioritizing the safety of our courier partners.

The UberEATS app is giving restaurants the opportunity to get real-time feedback from their customers on their service experience and favourite dishes. The learnings we have gathered around kitchen structures will also assist restaurants in making the most of their assets to drive new revenues.

We are also responding to our customer’s needs through analysing which campaigns they love most and listening to which services would make life easier. For example, we are currently exploring the possibility of offering freshly made, frozen baby food through the app for new moms. We already offer fresh food delivery; in Cape Town, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants is using UberEATS to get their fresh produce to homes in minutes – taking away that extra trip to the butcher before a Sunday lunch or braai.

We are expanding super-fast so keep a look out for UberEATS, which could be available in your area soon. We’re excited to announce that we are now further expanding our reach in Gauteng, launching in Pretoria and Centurion soon, and within Cape Town, we will be launching in Constantia, Wynberg, Tokai, and Plumstead.

We are getting requests from both eaters and restaurants in all major cities, requesting launch dates, and our goal is to be in all major cities by end of the year or early 2018.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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