I was pretty excited when Uber texted me that UberEats was coming to Portland. They invited me to sign-up to drive for them. Since I was already a driver for Uber, Lyft, Caviar, Postmates, and DoorDash, why not add another income stream?
For me, life in the gig economy is like playing Jenga. The more platforms you can stack, the better. The higher your stack, the more opportunities to make money and reduce idle time. I thought UberEats would be a good addition to my food delivery stack. I was wrong.
It turns out, adding UberEats to your stack is a horrible idea. Here are five reasons why.
1. UberEats is a Bad Scheduled Platform
If you are trying to stack platforms together, you need to have a scheduled platform and a freelance platform(s). We will look into freelance platforms later in this post. The scheduled platform is your preferred, go-to platform. UberEats is a poor choice for a scheduled platform for a few reasons.
First, drivers don’t take shifts ahead of time like they would with Postmates, DoorDash, or Caviar. With those platforms, scheduled couriers get priority dispatch. You don’t get this with UberEats.
Second, the delivery commission—which ranges depending on your market—is small. One person even called it modern-day slavery. Ideally, you want your scheduled platform to be the best paying platform of your stack. In my opinion, this would be Caviar or DoorDash.
2. UberEats is a Bad Freelance Platform
The freelance platform is the platform you turn on in addition to your scheduled platform. As you’re working on a job for the scheduled platform, you are fishing for a convenience job with your freelance platform to boost your earnings per hour.
UberEats is a terrible freelance platform choice. Here’s why.
An ideal freelance platform has a high volume of jobs throughout the day and has a lot more restaurant partnerships than the scheduled platform. These features allow couriers to pick and choose jobs that are convenience with another job from their scheduled platform. At the moment, Postmates fits this category for me. I’ve found out that UberEats jobs aren’t as readily available at the moment. But to be fair, they just launched this month, so there’s some growth in this area.
Even if UberEats has this problem resolved in other markets, the next three reasons will make UberEats a bad freelance choice.
3. UberEats’ Delivery Zone is Too Large
A good freelance platform should have a delivery zone that’s bigger than the scheduled platform. But not too big. UberEats’ delivery area can be too large to be suitable for stacking.
In Portland, for example, Caviar covers Portland proper (NW, NE, SW, and SE Portland) and Postmates cover the same region plus parts of Beaverton. UberEats covers from Hillsboro to Fairview. If you compare the platforms, UberEats’ delivery zone is about four to five times that of Caviar.
Here is Caviar’s coverage of Portland:
Here’s Postmates’ coverage of Portland:
Here’s the map of UberEats’ coverage in Portland:
A super large delivery zone is unfit for stacking because if you accept an UberEats job, the dropoff location could potentially take you way out of the delivery area of the other platforms you’re using in your stack. You will waste your time driving back into those smaller delivery zones.
4. Rideshare Interference
The UberEats app is separate from the Uber rideshare app for consumers but not for drivers. It’s all in one app, the Uber Partners app (now called Uber Driver)). This creates a problem when you try to stack food delivery jobs with Caviar, Postmates or any other food delivery platform. If you turn on the Uber Partners app to try and stack with Caviar or Postmates, you will likely get ride requests that you must reject. Your rejection rate with Uber rideshare will go up. And you’ll hear about it from Uber through text and email.
If you’re on a bike, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re on a bike it’s very hard to stack platforms and make good money.
5. UberEats Doesn’t Allow In-App Tipping
This last reason is the most important: Uber does not allow in-app tipping. It’s a marketing decision by their executives. In-app tipping creates anxiety and price uncertainty for users. This anxiety becomes a barrier to downloading the app, which hurts the growth of the app when it comes to user retention—getting users to use the service repeatedly. That harms Uber’s ability to scale.
To grow and compete, Uber would rather have their drivers make less money than have their users feel anxious about tipping. Lyft has taken advantage of this. Lyft’s latest commercials depict Uber as the evil Ride Corp.
You will make more money in the long term if you stack two or more platforms that allow in-app tipping. At the moment, I wouldn’t substitute Postmates, which has in-app tipping, with UberEats. I keep records of all my deliveries and right now, about 32% of Postmates customers tip an average of $4.22.
In a previous blog post, I described what it’s like to deliver for UberEats. The delivery fee for 14 minutes of works was $4.12. No tip. Translation? The average Postmates tip, which only requires excellent customer service on the courier’s part, is worth more than a 14 minutes UberEats delivery.
The whole point of stacking is to make more money. Until UberEats enables in-app tipping no courier with this goal should replace Postmates (or any other platforms) with UberEats in their stack.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t drive for UberEats period. That’s not my point here. There are opportunities to make money with UberEats. For example, UberEats has surge pricing, so there are moments you can make a lot of money.
Food delivery is a huge part of the gig economy. And in my opinion, the more food delivery platforms there are, the better. Having more platforms provides more opportunities for couriers to make money. In this regard, I’m glad to see Uber enter the food delivery space.
But a huge part of making money in the gig economy is stacking. And unfortunately, UberEats does not lend itself well to stacking at the moment. So for couriers looking for a platform they can use as part of a platform stack, UberEats isn’t the best choice.