Deliveroo’s delivery area algorithm is meh

In the last week or so my hometown has been filled with ads promoting a new partnership between McDonald’s and Deliveroo.

Every stoner’s dream.

For me, that mostly meant that Deliveroo was now available in my area, so I immediately downloaded the app, and was greeted by a “not available in your area” screen.

“We don’t deliver to this area just yet”

However, my friends could order to their homes with no problem, and I live in a fairly central location, the city’s main square is roughly a 20 minute walk away. So I started polling the Deliveroo app to see what the geographical limits of their delivery area are.

Initially I thought they used a 3km driving directions from the city’s main square limit, but they’re not that stupid.

They seem to divide the city in districts, and they switch those districts on and off. Apparently I’m on the edge of two districts, and a 10 meter distance can be the difference between being served or being ignored. That’s fair enough, but it leads to some ridiculous situation. There’s an ice cream shop 5 minutes from my front door that is able to deliver to other side of town, but not to the area immediately around it.

Here’s a silly example, delivering from my local gelateria to two randomly chosen addresses.

Other delivery services, like Just Eat, only care about the distance between the restaurant and the customer. Of course, they can do that because they don’t rely on freelance riders, but this is a terrible customer experience. It would be relatively easy to switch to time-based area limits, like in the screenshot below.

The whole city is reachable with a 15 minute bike ride

Time based estimates are probably not very trust-worthy, though, the simplest fix is probably something like a feather. Around each delivery area, you could gradually phase out the number of available restaurants based on their area, so that the reached customer base is greater, but the distance each rider has to cover isn’t expanded very much.

Lazy biker and videographer. Very occasional scuba diver. Tends to bake when procrastinating. Did Classics in High School, EE + media in Uni.

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