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 for you.
To assist your decision-making process, we’ve identified 7 of the top food delivery services in the U.S. We outline the pros and cons of each 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 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, and the restaurant fulfills that order, including preparing the food, packaging it, and giving it to the customer. Typically the food is delivered 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 the best fit for your business. 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 the days 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.
Behind the scenes, these 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 restaurant and customer).
As you can imagine, the evolution of these apps has provided exceptional opportunities for restaurateurs to reach new customers and grow beyond the constraints of their physical location. Many operators are facing 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 2020
Essential Features to Consider When Choosing a Food Delivery App
Ready to explore the best food delivery apps for your business? Whether you have an established restaurant 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.
- 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 customers. 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, as well as 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 as well as the kitchen and delivery staff. Allowing customers to schedule for later in the day or even the next day, ensures the ordering process is convenient for the user. 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 about the information.
- 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, 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 be able to manage all orders, update customers on the status of their order, 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. There may be other features that are important to your business’ specific needs. 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 is currently used by over 310,000 restaurants in +4,000 cities. It matches local restaurants with local ‘dashers’ (i.e., freelance couriers) so that you don’t have to hire your couriers.
- Useful for restaurant takeout orders;
- Tracking of orders and progress;
- Low minimum order amounts.
- 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 fees and costs;
- Restaurants can outsource the whole delivery;
- 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.
- 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 charge eating into revenue.
4 – GrubHub
Grubhub claims to have the largest and most comprehensive network restaurant partners, 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 fees relative to the competition.
5 – Delivery.com
The folks at delivery.com have developed platforms for delivering restaurant meals, alcohol, groceries, and even dry cleaning.
- Goes beyond the menu, includes dinner, lunch, snacks, beverages, wine, and more.
- No direct delivery fees, only shares of the transactions;
- 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;
- Issues with reliability;
- Service charge cutting into restaurant revenues;
7 – Instacart
Instacart is a platform that goes beyond the restaurants. It provides online and mobile experiences to help shoppers select and order products. Users 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)
What is the best meal delivery service?
The best meal delivery services are the ones that dominate in your area. In certain areas, one company could be more established and professional than others. The critical thing is to explore the systems in your area.
What is the best food delivery service in North America?
The question of best is subjective. What we can say objectively is that DoorDash has earned 45 percent of business in the U.S. as per June 2020.
One of the challenges for local restaurants today is solving the “straight to your door” problem. We hope this article has given you some useful information in determining the right choice of meal delivery app for your restaurant. We haven’t included all the options in this article, such as Chownow, eat24, and more. 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!