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(Yonhap Interview) UberEATS finds big potential in S. Korea food delivery market

2017/09/10 09:00

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By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- UberEATS, a food delivery service app run by ride-sharing pioneer Uber Technologies Inc., finds big growth potential in South Korea's food delivery market due to its advanced wireless networks and growing orders on mobile phones, a senior company executive said Friday.

The U.S.-based business launched its UberEATS service in Seoul a month ago, bringing the service to 112 cities across 28 countries, where it has 60,000 restaurant partners.

"Seoul is a perfect place for UberEATS. We find South Korea's fastest internet speed really helpful for our business here. We are looking to expand our business in a few more regions in Seoul at least within this year," Jaycee Lam, general manager of UberEATS North Asia, said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.

The executive didn't elaborate on the names of the additional regions in Seoul. UberEATS service is now available in Itaewon and Gangnam, two downtown districts in the capital city.

As for other possible cities, he only said there are growing requests from local customers to launch the UberEATS service in cities such as Busan, a southern port city, and the scenic Jeju Island.

In this photo taken on Sept. 8, 2017, UberEATS North Asia General Manager Jaycee Lam explains the food delivery app's business plans in South Korea during an interview with Yonhap News Agency held at the company's office in Gangnam, southern Seoul. (Yonhap) In this photo taken on Sept. 8, 2017, UberEATS North Asia General Manager Jaycee Lam explains the food delivery app's business plans in South Korea during an interview with Yonhap News Agency held at the company's office in Gangnam, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

In the past four weeks, more than 200 restaurants have signed up to UberEATS, with more expected to jump on board. Partners deliver food using their own bicycles, scooters or cars and receive a fee from Uber.

The majority of the food is delivered within 35 minutes to customers and free of charge for the time being as part of a promotion. But the company plans to receive a flat 3,500 won (US$3.00) delivery fee per order from customers, the general manager said, without giving any a specific time frame.

To differentiate itself from local rivals such as Baedal Minjok and Yogiyo, UberEATS will focus on selecting the best restaurants and providing its customers with an insightful analysis of their businesses and industry outlook in a win-win strategy, he said.

The UberEATS service was first launched in Toronto, Canada, in 2015 to deliver restaurant meals on-demand to homes and offices.

The app-based service works like its ride-sharing sister app Uber. When an UberEATS app user orders food from a restaurant on his mobile phone, the restaurant calls a nearby delivery partner and asks him to collect the food when ready and deliver it right to the door of the user.

UberEATS' launch here is part of Uber's commitment to South Korea's US$14 billion food delivery market, the general manager said, expecting UberEATS to make the pie a lot bigger.

"Since we have launched our transportation (or ride-sharing) business in Korea, we always think about what is the best way for Uber to keep being involved in the market deeper and then contribute here. UberEATS is one of the options that we can run in the 'promising and fast-growing' market," the executive said.

Still, a lack of awareness of the UberEATS service is the one area that can be improved in South Korea, he said.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr

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