Uber Eats customers have stepped up at a tough time for restaurants and donated $3 million to help food service establishments using a new feature put on the app in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The San Francisco-based online food ordering and delivery service launched by Uber in 2014 said it will match up to $3 million in contributions made by customers, according to TechCrunch. Uber Eats said it will send its matched portion to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
As reported in early April, the National Restaurant Association created the fund to support U.S. restaurant workers who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
In addition to Uber Eats, which donated $2 million to jumpstart the fund, founding partners included PepsiCo, Constellation Brands, Moët Hennessy USA, Ecolab, Cargill, Boston Beer Co., Shift4 Payments, P&G Professional, The Elliot Group, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and the Light Foundation. It was led by Food Network host and chef Guy Fieri.
Uber Eats Senior Product Manager Therese Lim told the online news service the restaurant donation feature on the app was fast-tracked by a team of engineers in a week.
“There was no executive who said, ‘Oh we need to build this feature, you all go build this now,’” she said in the report. “We started to see restaurants get impacted severely by this, and this was particularly true as the various states started implementing shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders.”
The donation app was tested first on April 1 in New York City, she said, to make sure tipping of delivery workers didn’t suffer. Two days later, it expanded citywide and then was introduced over the next week to the rest of the nation.
“We didn’t want to introduce anything that actually hurts restaurants,” Lim said. “It was important to make sure we weren’t introducing friction into the experience that would cause a user to become impatient or displeased with the outcomes and maybe not actually finish their order.”
Customers not only tipped more, she said, they were regular Uber Eats users.
The top five most generous states were Washington, Vermont, Montana, Connecticut and South Carolina, the report noted.
Last week, Uber Eats reported a 59 percent increase in grocery delivery orders in March compared with February, helping it offset the losses caused by closed restaurants.
“Everything that we are doing on grocery and convenience is driven by the fact that we are seeing strong consumer appetites from new consumption trends, people who are confined and cannot go out,” European General Manager Stephane Ficaja told Reuters in an April 16 report.