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August 8, 2019

This little shop from Adelaide was given a platform to speak at an Uber Eats global food summit

The invite came after they told Uber to lift their game.

  • Words: Josh Fanning

One of only three Australian businesses invited to speak at the ‘Future of Food’, Uber Eats global conference in Hong Kong was from Adelaide.

During a recent, “round robin of catch-ups” in Adelaide, co-founder of Hello Sarnie Andy Pearce sat down with the Uber Eats representatives who asked for the meeting and told them just what he thought of Uber’s trajectory over the past 12 months.

Hello Sarnie was one of 10 founding partner sites that helped Uber trial their product when it launched in the Adelaide market three years ago.

Andy says Hello Sarnie and Uber Eats have always had a good relationship, but that recently he felt the love had gone.

“As people slowly built confidence in it, Uber Eats slowly pulled away their team on the ground and basically – I was completely honest with them – I said I felt that Uber Eats had become a transactional business and basically we’d become just a stand-and-deliver service for them,” Andy says.

Obsessed with digital integration and streamlining their systems and services, Hello Sarnie has always paid close attention to the technological side of their business. Aside from Uber Eats diminishing customer service, they also found sticking points with their Rewardle customer loyalty system and even their catering Shopify website.

At the end of 2018 Andy and co-founder of Hello Sarnie, Mike Kendall-Smith were ready to review everything and push into Hello Sarnie 2.0. And this is what Andy shared with the representatives from Uber Eats.

“Cut a long story short, they were really happy with what I had to say,” says Andy about the outcome of his frank and productive conversation with the global disruptor.

“From there I was invited to attend and speak at their inaugural world food summit to discuss off-premise food and beverage opportunities.”

He thought, at that stage, the conference could have been at the Adelaide Convention Centre… or something.

Turns out no.

Uber Eats wanted Hello Sarnie to go to Hong Kong. They wanted Andy to sit on a panel with the senior vice president of Coca-Cola Asia Pacific and the Chief Operations Officer for Café Coffee Day – a company with 1700 stores and 4500 kiosks and based in India.

A photo of Andy Pearce and his co-panelists

Andy Pearce with Alejandro Gonzalez of Coca-Cola (Japan) and Vinay Bhopatkar of Cafe Coffee Day (India)

The gulf in scale between the businesses he would be presenting alongside, was not lost on Andy.

“I think how Uber Eats saw [Hello Sarnie], we could talk about the day-to-day. We’re on the frontline,” says Andy.

Four hundred and fifty people all flew in from APAC [Asia Pacific]. There was a live stream going out to 1500+ subscribers to the event, and Andy – ever the smooth talker – answered some curly questions from the audience with honesty about Hello Sarnie’s point of difference in the market being its obsession with technology.

A photo of Hello Sarnie's new app

Hello Sarnie’s new app let’s you order ahead and pay without tapping

Right now, you can reach into your pocket and download the Hello Sarnie app for Apple or Android. In that app you can set up your loyalty program, you can pre-order a sandwich (or 12) and pay for it all with your phone.

At the same time as developing their app with former Adelaide startup, now Melbourne-based tech firm, Loke, Andy and Mike ditched Shopify as their online catering portal in favour of an Australian company that specialises in catering.

“We were building two digital platforms at once but we had to get them to look and feel the same,” says Andy.

“The goal of both projects, at the end of the day, was to enhance the customer experience and ease of usability both from a catering and retail perspective.

“Being a grab-and-go business, we want to make things as easy and convenient for our time-poor customers as possible.”

The result is a wallet-free payment gateway and loyalty app for your phone that talks to Hello Sarnie’s website and the point of sale software at each of their two shop locations. The app is free and they give you your first digitally-ordered coffee for $1.00 (a genius way to incentivise people to add their card details and get transacting from a standing start).

“We had to get all those ducks in a row as we expand our business and set ourselves apart from our competitors,” says Andy, pausing. “Before we open the third store.”

Our eyes light up. A new food and drink venue? Adelaide loves those!

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