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The human costs of buying from Deliveroo, UberEats and the like

Deliveroo communicated that the number of lunch deliveries in Belgium had increased 19 fold ! People start understanding that food delivery is not just a Friday night habit. It can also be experienced during the week and also at lunch. However consumers must understand that their consumption patterns may also have some less positive consequences.

Consumers want everything, quickly without extra fee

I draw a parallel between the success of Deliveroo and the rise of e-commerce and in particular of cross-border e-commerce. E-commerce really started picking up in my opinion when companies understood consumers were not willing to pay for the delivery. This put pressure on supply-chain firms to lower their prices, increased competition and a new cycle began of even quicker deliveries (the future standard will be same-day delivery, especially with drones).
The same happens with food delivery. This isn’t really a much different business. Like for physical goods consumers see no value in the delivery process. This puts pressure on the supply-chain provider except that in this case this provider is a freelancer. He has no bargaining power.

Don’t forget the bad consequences of your consumption patterns

The word uberisation has been created originally to describe a new business model adopted by new types of firms. In my opinion, uberisation has today become a negatively connoted word that represents the exploitation of independent workers.
When you are buying on Deliveroo you are obviously promoting this system, because it’s convenient to you. Remember however that fulfilling your needs comes at a cost. A human cost.


Customers have been accustomed to free deliveries for their online purchases and are now expecting the same for their food deliveries. This fuels the creativity of start-ups to invent new models that will satisfy customers. Those new models are however not based on technical improvements but rather on financial creativity that, indirectly, promote peoples’ exploitation. As fellow blogger and journalist Christophe Charlot described in his book Uberize me, it’s hard to make a living out of those small uberized jobs.
Next time you want to buy something, remember that you, as a consumer, have a great power. Exercise it and don’t fall into the traps of companies in search of more profitability. Follow the example I gave here: refuse for instance to use the tools that firms want you to adopt to cut on costs.

Image : shutterstock

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Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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