Uber Eats in a time of a Pandemic

Designing for Sustainability
Add a new feature for Uber Eats, addressing the increase in use of single-use plastic during the pandemic, while considering business and user goals.
Uber Eats Eco Challenge: Rewards System
Figma, Adobe Illustrator
UX Research, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Wireframing, Prototyping
30 Hours
Why is this project important?
In September 26, 2019, Uber Eats released a new feature, where cutleries are not selected by default, as part of their mission to help reduce plastic waste. It has been 2 years since the feature was released, and it was only Uber Eats' first step in helping the planet.
Now, especially in this time of a pandemic, Uber Eats has started thinking of new ways on providing a more sustainable delivery experience for the users, and the planet.
How should we begin?
Research goals:
  • Understand the current situation of single-use plastic issue, and how food delivery services contribute in this issue
  • Identify the demographics of food delivery services
  • Determine users’ frustrations/motivations/needs/goals
  • Understand users’ experience with UberEats' sustainability efforts
  • UberEats user base has increased since the start of the pandemic
  • Alongside with the increase of UberEats users, single use plastic waste has also increased
  • UberEats' target market age ranges from 20 ~ 40
  • UberEats' users are not satisfied with the company's efforts to eliminate single use plastic, or don't care about it
  • If given a choice, users would support food providers that help eliminate single use plastic
What did we find out?
The Single-use Plastic Issue Situation (Global):
  • Today, we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That's nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population
  • Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment
  • If current trends continue, one study estimates that by 2050 the plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh the fish
  • The pandemic hit as politicians in many countries promised to wage war on waste from single-use plastics
  • Because of the pandemic, there has been an increased demand for disposable plastics, plastic recyclers have been unable to handle the amount of waste, and the oil and gas industry has focused on producing new plastics
The Single-use Plastic Issue Situation (Japan):
  • Japan is the world’s second-largest generator of plastic packaging waste per person behind the United States
  • Japan is focused on collection and waste management, but doesn’t do too much about reduction of production and consumption
  • Some survey results from an international environmental NGO, Greenpeace:
    → More than 80% of the respondents think that in their current lifestyle, there are many unnecessary single-use plastic products and over-packaging services
    → More than 70% of people "want to use if there options, in order to avoid using single-use plastic"
    → In addition, more than 60% of the total think that "not only charging plastic shopping bags, but also the plastic use regulation and charging other single-use plastic products should be promoted".
Market Trends (Food Delivery Services):
  • Delivery services are expanding, mainly in central Tokyo, due to quarantine regulations and shortening the business hours of restaurants
  • As of November 2020, 39.7% have experience using food delivery services, and 5.0% said they used the delivery service for the first time during the pandemic
  • Younger people have more experience using food delivery services. The usage rate for people in their 20s and 30s is nearly half that of all food delivery service users
  • When asked when users order from food delivery services, the leading reason is "When they are busy/When they do not want to cook", in second place "When there is something they want to eat", and in third place "When they get flyers, coupons, or discounts"
What do users actually think?
In order to understand the user's experience with Uber Eats and their thoughts on single-use plastic issue, we interviewed five people in their 20s and 30s, and are heavy Uber Eats users (order at least twice a week).

Interview questions were broadly divided into two categories:
→ Uber Eats user experience
→ Correlation between Uber Eats and single-use plastics
Interview Summary
Below is the summary of the interview:
  • Get food conveniently, to avoid spending time to cook or going outside, to fit their busy schedule
  • To be able to eat different types of food even when staying at home
  • Rewards, discounts
  • Good customer service
  • High price (additional fees)
  • Availability of delivery partners
Common User Behaviors
  • All participants are "Eats Pass" subscribers
  • Rotating between favorite restaurants
  • Everyone is aware of the issue of single-use plastics, and 4 out of 5 are concerned about it, but feel that there is nothing they can do.
  • Everyone has very positive image of stores that already offer sustainable food packaging
  • Participants are generally satisfied with the usability of the application (usability score is on average 4.5 out of 5)
Organizing data from our research...
After performing a thematic analysis, some insights have been apparent from the participants' voices:
Users are influenced to continue ordering fromUber Eats when they perceive that the value of the service is bigger than their guilt
  • All participants mentioned that although they started using Uber eats more, since the pandemic, there was a point when they stopped using, because they were spending too much, or gaining weight (guilt)
  • "Guilt" here is general, and can pertain to feeling guilt towards: spending too much money, using too much plastics, gaining weight, etc.
  • "I was very guilty about spending 4,000 yen alone, for one meal."
One of the biggest guilt reduction features in the app, are in the form of rewards (discounts, coupons, refunds, time sale)
  • 4 out of 5 people talk about the customer service, as one super good experience they had, but from all of these experiences, all mentioned "full refund".
  • 4 out of 5 users have tried using other food delivery services because they got coupons/discount.
Clear visual representation of these rewards transform into motivation for users
  • All participants are "Eats Pass" subscribers, and one of the reasons they continue subscribing is because they can see how much they are saving each month.
  • "During checkout, when I see that a discount is being applied, I feel more confident in continuing with my order."
How might we...
To get started with brainstorming, we created HMW questions based on user needs, goals and insights. Creating HWM questions help limit the direction of brainstorming, for a more user-focused solution.
How might we provide more value for users to help them reduce their guilt level, so that they can continue using Uber Eats
How might we help continuously reduce the barriers that users encounter each time they feel guilt, through rewards?
How might we give users an intuitive interface with clear visual information about the rewards available, in order to motivate them?
Uber Eats Eco Challenge
  • A rewards system where users can collect points/rewards while addressing the single-use plastic issue.
  • Helps users reduce their guilt by getting rewards, and also helping the environment.
  • Clear and intuitive rewards system visual design
Heuristic Evaluation
  • First, I took a lot of screenshots of the design of Uber Eats' existing app and studied its features, and  patterns
  • In addition to evaluating using 10 principles of usability, I also used the study to create wireframes and templates for prototyping
  • Since not all Uber Eats design patterns are available in the Uber UI Kit, I had to create the atoms, molecules, organisms, templates from scratch
  • Uber Eats icons are also not publicly available, so I also created them from scratch (since I also enjoy creating icons)
Visual Identity
  • In creating the campaign and new features regarding the "Eats Eco Challenge", it is important to preserve the existing Uber Eats brand identity while blending new design elements
  • For the icon design, after several iterations, I used green to represent "nature" and gold to represent "rewards"; and the PET bottle is used to represent 1 Eco Point.
  • PET bottles is the main symbol of this campaign and it has two meanings:
    1 Eco points equates to reducing 1 PET bottle from being disposed, and
    → "Collecting points" can represent "plastic collection" or "virtual cleanup" which especially helps users feel like they can do these activities even during a pandemic
Progress Tracking
  • This feature uses Uber Eats' existing design patterns and places an intuitive progress tracker on screens where users feel the most guilt in the user flow
  • Progress includes:
    → How many more points until next reward
    → How much plastic has been reduced, from gathering Eco Points
Final Prototype
This project/topic is really close to my heart, and creating this kind of research/design has been a great experience, in terms of practicing my design skills, and in learning more about the issue of single-use plastics.
From the research and interviews, I have realized that the term "sustainability" has evolved, and has come to bear different meanings depending on the person/organization that you ask. It has become one of the most used buzzwords, and different businesses and organizations have adopted strategies to contribute to this advocacy. Some might even argue, that it has been used as a marketing term to increase revenue - and I think this is true, but I also think it's not completely negative, especially when it's effective in spreading awareness.
In the end, balance has been an important factor in designing this features. Solving problems that maintains balance between business goals, user goals, and sustainability goals.
Going through this challenge, it has made me reflect, and made me feel grateful, that I am in this line of profession, allowing me to participate in contributing for the people, and for the environment.
Next Steps
1. Usability test
2. Cooperation with Finance/Marketing regarding the details/pricing of rewards
3. Development
1. Use of PET bottle as a representation of a point unit (further investigation about the measurement of impact with regards to the amount of plastic that is being reduced is required)
2. Definition of "environmentally friendly container" (type of packing material, recycling, Carbon Footprint, etc.)

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