Customers looking for a cheap meal or a new recipe will soon be able to pose their query directly in the Uber Eats app.
The food delivery company is developing an AI chatbot that can answer users’ questions, give recommendations and reorder past meals.
The bot will go live later this year. It’s one of four new app features Uber Eats unveiled Wednesday that are intended to help customers save time and money.
A customer could ask the bot something like “Show me highly rated Mexican options delivered within 30 minutes,” and it would surface restaurants that meet those criteria. Or they could say “Show me 3 meals for the week for less than $100 in groceries,” and it would pull up three ideas and also build a grocery list.
Those were two examples offered by Uber Eats, although it noted that “actual features may vary.”
Which restaurants the AI chooses to display will be based on the same factors that determine where they show up in Uber Eats' app today, a spokesperson said in an email. Those variables include a restaurants' proximity to the customer, the customer's order history and the restaurant's ability to fulfill the order.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more common in online ordering apps. Grocery delivery company Instacart added a similar search assistant earlier this year, and DoorDash has also discussed using an AI bot as a sort of concierge for customers. IHOP recently added an AI-powered recommendations tool to its online ordering system.
Uber Eats’ other updates are focused on its grocery segment:
Pay with SNAP
Starting next year, participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be able to use their benefits to buy groceries on Uber Eats. SNAP is provided to low-income families to help them afford nutritious foods.
Pay with healthcare accounts
Some Medicaid and Medicare plans offer prepaid payment cards that members can use for eligible expenses including groceries. Next year, Uber Eats will start accepting some of these payment methods, such as FSA Cards and Flex Cards.
Shop the “Sales Aisle”
This new tab will highlight grocery items that are on sale from various retailers. It could also show stores that don’t mark up prices in the app.
Uber Eats and DoorDash have been doubling down on grocery delivery recently. DoorDash this week added eight new grocery chains to its app, for instance. The news coincided with Instacart’s IPO on Tuesday.
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