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What to Look For in a Food Delivery Service

Challenging times have forced us all to think differently about how we shop, interact and eat. Restrictions on dining out, plus the necessity to keep social distancing have led us to new ways to continue to enjoy our favorite restaurants without having to actually GO to the restaurant.

Enter: Food delivery services
Orders for carryout and delivery food via up and coming businesses such as DoorDash and their competitors have exploded during this lengthy stay-at-home social distancing period. With restrictions on restaurants and eateries in the last eight months, consumers prefer the courtesy of a food courier service app that offers contactless delivery to the safety of their homes.

Besides bringing family essentials to your doorstep, this new category of service helps local businesses to stay afloat during hard times. Communities have rallied around their favorite restaurants, recognizing that the many restaurant workers need the income.

Restaurants have also been very creative, offering specials, new foods, make-at-home kits to enjoy with the kids, outdoor dining options and more. Delivery services definitely work for some people…not for others. But it’s a nice option to have when you need to stay home or just want to enjoy dining out without actually “going out.”

Some of the most popular services include DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats and Grubhub. Offering access to literally hundreds of thousands of restaurants and chains, they let you choose from a range of options—from fast-food chains to fine dining and everything in between. The apps provide access to a wide variety of restaurants from which you can order with just a few taps and clicks. Even better, when you tap on a restaurant, you’ll see its ratings, delivery cost, estimated time and distance from you.

How they work
The services basically operate in the same fashion, with quality, service and preference differentiating between them. First, you must sign up—usually with your email address and create a password. Most services will give you free delivery offers or discounts, especially on your first order. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a service:

  • How easy the app is to use?
  • What is the order minimum?
  • What type of payment methods are accepted?
  • Are customers kept informed of their order status?
  • Did the right order arrive in the timeframe promised?
  • Did drivers follow instructions for contactless delivery?

Consumer Reports recently reviewed some of the top delivery apps noting that many users reported “menu confusion” from the services—where the menu offerings on the delivery app didn’t match the menu on the restaurant’s website. Other problems included communication difficulties—i.e., trouble contacting delivery drivers or keeping an eye on where their order was, despite tracking features offered by most companies. And, sometimes contactless delivery instructions were not followed; typically the driver will leave your food on the front porch, and text you a picture of it to let you know your order has arrived.

There is a price for the delivery convenience. Fees range from $0 to $5.99 per order. These fees go toward operating costs, driver background checks, insurance, maintaining delivery app technology and more. Some services even offer subscription options for frequent customers; for example, Postmates charges $10 a month or $100 annually, with free delivery on all orders over $15.

Additionally, prices for dishes on the app are typically higher than if you ordered directly from the restaurant; they are likely trying to recoup some of the commission they pay the delivery service, which may be 25-30 percent. This may be one good reason to order directly from the restaurant and pick it up, if you want to save yourself a few bucks but forego the convenience factor.

Consumer reviews site CNET surveyed food delivery service users. Here’s what they found:

Most popular and best consistency: DoorDash
Fastest delivery and cheapest (fee): Uber Eats
Best delivery deals: Postmates
Easiest payment: Grubhub/Seamless

 

Details, including cost breakdowns, may be found here.

Why not give one of these services a try? Bon appetit!

Resources: BlackFriday.com, CNET.com, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping