The restaurant industry has been turned on its head in recent years thanks to the advent of food delivery apps. Once the domain of pizzerias and Chinese restaurants, a form of food delivery service is now offered by every type of dining establishment – from fast-food chains to independent cafes, upscale restaurants, and more. Of course, many ambitious operators also recognize the opportunities that come with offering a new food experience that’s not dependent on table availability. The key question is finding the best food delivery services for you.
To assist your decision-making process, we’ve identified 7 of the top food delivery services app in the U.S. We outline the pros and cons of each food ordering and delivery service, as well as which type(s) of restaurants for which they are best suited. Ready to dig in and find your fit? Keep reading!
Table of Contents
The Basics of Delivering Food
At its core, delivering food or takeout meals is a courier service provided by restaurants and other food-based businesses (e.g., grocery stores). Customers place an order for the food they want to be delivered to a specified address. The restaurant fulfills that order, including preparing the food, packaging it, and giving it to the customer. Typically the food deliveries are made by courier drivers that use motor vehicles, although delivery by scooter, bicycle, or even foot is not unusual.
Restaurateurs interested in adapting to this new reality will find many companies ready to woo them. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to wade through all the options and figure out your business’s best fit. Just as technology has changed the retail landscape, it has impacted the restaurant industry. And customers’ expectations have shifted just as rapidly as technology has evolved. For many new and established restaurateurs, the only way to remain competitive today is to offer delivery.
In the following section, we’ll briefly review what these services entail and take a closer look at the features to consider when choosing a service for your restaurant/food business.
What is Involved in the Delivery of Food?
In many ways, today’s tools look and feels the same as it has for many decades. But don’t let the illusion fool you. In recent years, technology transformed meal delivery. Gone are when restaurants had to rely on paper takeout menus, a dedicated phone number, and manual management of the orders. Today’s expectations are high with free delivery (or lower delivery fees).
Today’s providers rely on technology to manage almost every stage of the service. They offer easy-to-use apps and online menus where customers can browse options and place their orders. Many ordering platforms provide customers with several additional options, such as requesting drop-off at a specific time. Customers are often given the choice of paying online or upon delivery.
A consumer also has meal kit delivery services where you are provided with all the ingredients to prepare a meal. This service is perfect for a home chef. One good example is Purple Carrot. Purple Carrot is a plant-based meal kit delivery service that delivers food to your doorstep with the option of having to prepare it for yourself. They have some of the best vegetarian recipes. HelloFresh is another service that offers meal options and delivers ingredients and recipe cards for those meal options. You can choose to order through a weekly subscription that gets renewed. This can help you in meal prep as well.
You may also like to read: Case Study:
How To Start A Meal Kit Delivery Service?
Behind the scenes, some of the best food delivery apps automate and streamline every step in the process, from providing the kitchen with the latest order information to tracking drivers in real-time (useful information for both the food joint and customer).
As you can imagine, these apps’ evolution has provided exceptional opportunities for restaurateurs to reach new customers and grow beyond their physical location constraints. Many operators face new challenges as they add meal transportation to their business model, such as ensuring their food ‘travels’ well, sourcing space for vehicles, and adjusting their menu to suit at-home consumption.
For more information, check out:
Best Route Planner App for Delivery Drivers in 2021
Essential Features to Consider When Choosing a Food Delivery App
Ready to explore the best food delivery service apps for your business? Whether you have an established food business or are just entering the industry, you’ll want to make sure you choose a platform that suits your needs.
Here are some of the key features to consider when choosing the best food delivery service apps.
- Route Planning and Allocation: A route planning tool is a ‘must’ for restaurants managing multiple drivers. It allows a manager or assigns orders to specific drivers easily.
- Easy and Secure Payment: Your chosen app must offer multiple payment options for your delivery orders. It is one of the most indispensable features. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance you’ll lose many customers at the ‘place order’ stage of the process. Include an online payment integration such as Square, Stripe, Apple Pay, or PayPal and cash or credit upon delivery for customers who are not comfortable making online payments. You’ll also want to ensure that payment information provided by customers is safe and secure.
- Flexible Delivery Scheduling: This feature will make things easier for the customer and the kitchen and delivery staff. Allowing customers to schedule for later in the day or even the next day ensures the user’s ordering process is convenient. It can also help the kitchen and delivery team better plan for peak demand times by ensuring they have enough staff, raw ingredients, etc.
- Live Tracking: Customers will appreciate this feature, which allows them to track in real-time. It can also help reduce the amount of time the delivery driver spends at each stop and provide managers with valuable information. The best food delivery apps have a live tracking feature now.
- User-Friendly Customer Interface: At the end of the day, what matters the most in every business is the customer experience. And if you’re offering food transportation through delivery apps, your app represents the first interaction a customer will have with your restaurant. First impressions are essential, so make sure the app provides a user-friendly dashboard and seamless ordering process that is fast and intuitive. The best way to understand the user experience? Test each app out as a customer and see where you land.
- User-Friendly Administrator Dashboard: Just like your customers, you’re going to want a dashboard that’s easy to navigate and allows you to do everything you need to as a restaurant manager/administrator.
- Order Management: This is another ‘must-have’ for any food delivery app. From the admin panel, the administrator should manage all orders, update customers on their order status, and manage payments.
- Navigation and GPS Tracking: This feature will assist your delivery drivers in completing their deliveries more efficiently, which in turn will mean happier customers and the capacity to make more deliveries each shift.
These are just a few of the crucial features to look for when choosing a food delivery platform. Other features are important to your business’s specific needs, like a delivery fee. A delivery fee can prove to be an important feature that can decide the popularity of the app. Sometimes reading a customer review can help you find out if the service is suitable for you or not. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out and realistic plan for your implementation before you even go shopping for an app or software that can assist you in executing your plan.
Top 7 Food Delivery Services
1 – DoorDash
DoorDash is an aggregator platform that over 310,000 restaurants in +4,000 cities currently use. It matches local restaurants with local ‘dashers’ (i.e., freelance couriers) to not have to hire your couriers.
- Useful for diner takeout orders;
- Tracking of orders and progress;
- Low minimum order amounts.
- A monthly charge for no delivery fee
- Subscription option: monthly or annually
- Customer service is dearth;
- High prices;
2 – Postmates
Food, drinks, retail goods – you name it, Postmates can help get it delivered right to your customers’ doors. Their mission says it all: “Our mission is to enable anyone to have anything delivered on-demand.” Postmates, like many of its counterparts, uses a fleet of couriers to fulfill orders from local restaurant partners.
- Low delivery fee and costs;
- Restaurants can outsource the whole delivery;
- The system of compensation is unclear for drivers;
- Issues with delivery assignments;
3 – Uber Eats
Uber made a name for itself as an alternative to the traditional taxi experience, and now they’re making their mark in the food delivery business with the Uber Eats app. It is one of the most favored apps in taxi and food delivery services.
- Largest meal delivery platform (except China) in terms of Gross earnings;
- Refined technology
- Business insights from data collection
- A delivery person receives fewer tips.
- Service fees and delivery fees eating into revenue.
4 – GrubHub
Grubhub claims to have the largest and most comprehensive restaurant partners’ network, with more than 200,000 partnering restaurants in over 4,000 U.S. cities.
- COVID-19/coronavirus friendly pickup orders;
- Simple subscription option and fee structure;
- Available on iOs and Android;
- Bad reviews from delivery drivers;
- High delivery fees and other costs relative to the competition.
5 – Delivery.com
The folks at delivery.com have developed platforms for delivering meals, alcohol, groceries, and even dry cleaning.
- It goes beyond the menu, includes dinner, lunch, snacks, beverages, wine, and more.
- No direct delivery fee, only shares of the transactions;
- Delivery.com has a point system.
- Stories of orders being canceled;
- Experiences of inaccurate orders.
6 – Skip The Dishes
Skip a lot of the extra work associated with introducing food delivery to your restaurant with SkipThe Dishes. The company will send its couriers to your restaurant to pick up orders and deliver them to customers. Skip The Dishes is used by many chains and fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, and Wendy’s.
- Used by well-established merchants for breakfast, lunch, and all meals;
- Available in many places and countries;
- No subscription required;
- Charges a delivery fee or service fee based on the order
- Issues with reliability;
- Service charge cutting into restaurant revenues;
7 – Instacart
Instacart is a platform that goes beyond restaurants. It provides online and mobile experiences to help shoppers select and order products. Customers can then pick up at the store or order delivery (delivery fees apply).
- Order items from neighborhood stores as well as restaurants;
- Coronavirus pandemic friendly – leave at my door delivery option;
- Scheduled delivery options;
- The delivery app is considered glitchy or buggy;
- Tip structure is not advantageous to drivers;
- No free delivery (there are varied delivery fees or service fee)
The best meal delivery services are the one that dominates your area. In certain areas, one company could be more established and professional than others. There may be areas where an Uber Eats is preferred over a DoorDash. The critical thing is to explore the systems in your area. It is also determined based on the restaurants it covers and the delivery fee it charges. If you are looking for a meal kit service, you will find several different options like Home Fresh, Freshly, and Blue Apron.
The question of the best food delivery options is subjective. We can say objectively that DoorDash has earned 45 percent of business in the United States as of June 2020. Uber Eats and GrubHub follow it. It depends on what kind of customer review you come across.
One of the challenges for local restaurants today is solving the “straight to your door” problem. But that problem is being solved by apps like Uber Eats by delivering food to your doorstep. We hope this article has given you some useful information in determining the right choice of meal delivery services or apps for your restaurant. We haven’t included all the options in this article, such as Chownow, eat24, Sun Basket, and more. Some of these delivery companies do meal-kit delivery and grocery delivery as well. If you would like us to cover another delivery app, please let us know! Otherwise, let us know how we can help you solve the “straight to your door” or any route planning problems you may have!