As demand for delivery surges, food deliverers are not seeing returns

Grab launched a pilot programme allowing its driver-partners to provide on-demand parcel and food delivery services during off-peak commute hours.
Grab launched a pilot programme allowing its driver-partners to provide on-demand parcel and food delivery services during off-peak commute hours.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The ban on dining-in under the circuit breaker measures has been a shot in the arm for food delivery services.

But while food orders have shot up, many delivery riders claim that they have not been reaping the benefits.

In fact, 47 out of 58 riders, or 81 per cent, told The New Paper that they are earning less now than before.

Several of these riders, who work with the three major food delivery platforms here - Deliveroo, Foodpanda and GrabFood - believe they are facing more competition with the influx of new riders during the coronavirus outbreak.

GrabFood rider Jack Lim, 38, said: "It is a huge misconception that we are getting more money now with the increased demand for food deliveries.

"There are more orders, but there are also a lot more riders as more people are getting retrenched due to Covid-19."

Mr Lim, who has been with GrabFood for a year and rides a power-assisted bicycle for deliveries, said he used to earn about $100 a day. But his earnings have now dropped to about $20 a day, making it tougher for him to provide for his wife and toddler.

His colleague, Mr Abdul Azziz, 57, said his earnings started to drop last month.

"Not only do we have to compete with people who got laid off, now we also have to compete with private-hire drivers for orders," added Mr Abdul, who has been with GrabFood since last November.

In September last year, Grab launched a pilot programme allowing its driver-partners to provide on-demand parcel and food delivery services during off-peak commute hours.

Last month, Grab started discussing with LTA to extend the deadline of and increase the number of driver-partners under the GrabExpress Car pilot programme.

Its spokesman told TNP: "Thousands of Grab driver-partners have signed up for the GrabExpress Car pilot programme."

 
 

While it is unclear why some riders are earning less than before, TNP understands that their earnings are dependent on many factors and vary based on how they choose to work.

But the spokesman said that GrabFood is prepared for the surge in orders during this period and is helping its delivery-partners by having in place tech capabilities such as Grouped Orders to allow them to fulfil more orders within a given hour.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and explore various solutions to ensure that operations are optimised and continue to run smoothly," she said.

Like GrabFood, Deliveroo said that discrepancies in earning power of its riders would depend on each individual.

But it acknowledged a surge in rider applications, with its spokesman saying: "Deliveroo saw an 80 per cent rise in rider applications since March 16 compared with a normal week."

The platform has welcomed 600 new restaurant-partners since late January and now has a fleet of 6,000 riders.

The spokesman said: "Since March 1, there has been a 50 per cent jump in the number of restaurant sign-ups, compared with the previous month."

 
 
 

To balance the supply and demand of riders and orders, Deliveroo has rolled out initiatives such as giving riders detailed guides on the best time and places to work.

The spokesman said: "Our team uses data analytics to match supply and demand, ensuring that we have the right number of riders on the road in the right place at any one time."

Foodpanda also has a similar situation, with managing director Luc Andreani telling TNP: "We are seeing an increase in the number of riders who would like to join our well-established fleet of freelancers.

"As we expect more sign-ups in the coming days, Foodpanda is collaborating with Enterprise Singapore to make it easier for restaurants to go digital."

In the last month, Foodpanda has got on board 200 per cent more of food and beverage partners to offer online deliveries, he said.

Mr Andreani said Foodpanda had not received any feedback from its riders on lower earnings.

To help those finding it difficult to get orders, Foodpanda, which rewards its riders per delivery, is allowing them to plan their shift hours a week ahead.

But some riders say they are still finding it hard to get shifts.

Mr Ariff Zaharuddin, 21, said: "With more people joining the platform, it is extremely difficult to get shifts now.

"I was not able to book my shifts for next week as none was available, the first time this has happened in my three years with Foodpanda."

 
 

Mr Mohd Sopfian Faizal Ismail, 21, who joined GrabFood three weeks ago after being laid off as an operations assistant, said he got off to a good start by being more mobile.

"The older guys tend to stay at the same spot. I realised that to earn more, you have to move around more," said the cyclist, who covers Kranji, Woodlands, Yishun and Sembawang and took home about $50 a day.

"But times are harder now. Every day, I have to come up with a different game plan, such as what time I have to be at each location to earn the most money," he said. "It is challenging with a lot of riders fighting for orders. Everyone wants a piece of the same cake."