- Uber Eats launched a new feature allowing customers to search, rather than just scroll, and see how far away a restaurant is for a pickup order. Users who open in-app Uber Eats map can search for any type of cuisine and find out what's nearby, including the exact distance from a selected location.
- The feature also allows users to search the pickup map using only food emojis. In an email sent to Restaurant Dive, the company said this feature can help travelers who don't speak a region's native language, as the tool is available throughout the world.
- Digital orders for carryout increased by 130% in the year ending March 2021, and carryout now represents 62% of all digital orders, according to The NPD Group.
Uber said customers who order pickup do so to save time and money, and discover restaurants on the app that may be too far to deliver.
"We've heard from users that ordering for pickup with Uber Eats isn’t just a time- and money-saver—consumers can order ahead, save on delivery fees and skip the line—but it’s also a way to discover the best of Uber Eats in areas just too far from home to surface in the delivery feed," a company spokesperson said in an email.
Uber's new functionality could help the company retain users. Uber said eight out of 10 users switch to other map apps to search for nearby restaurants. Those users could potentially switch to a competing platform, like Google Maps, if they don't find what they're looking for quickly enough. Google Maps recently launched an update of its own in April 2020 to make it easier for consumers to find nearby takeout and delivery options.
By keeping customers in its app, Uber Eats could help diners find local restaurants they haven't tried before. This opportunity could incentivize restaurants to pay for better placement on the marketplace.
The emoji feature could also provide an engaging experience for users and save them time. Uber Eats isn't the first company to leverage emojis. In 2015, Domino's Pizza launched a feature that allowed customers to tweet a pizza emoji at the restaurant to place an order. In 2019, Postmates added emoji searches for World Emoji Day. In 2016, Grubhub teamed up with Snaps to launch a keyboard app called mmmoji.
The map search function is the latest feature introduced by Uber Eats as it continues to grow its gross bookings. In April, the company added a Pickup and Go feature that allows rides passengers to order and pick up meals and groceries while en route to their destination. It also added a Stories function to help merchants engage with in-app users. The company also recently introduced a tiered pricing structure to provide more flexibility for its restaurant partners.