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Who is Triumphing in the Food Delivery War?

DoorDash became the leader in digital food delivery in 2019, according to data from Second Measure.

It captured a third of all digital food delivery sales in the U.S. market in 2019, putting it ahead of Grubhub, which had 32% of sales in the category, reported CNBC (Jan. 17). Next was Uber Eats with a 20% share, followed by Postmates with 10%.

Digital food delivery is projected to grow into a $467 billion business over the next five years, a 31% increase, according to Morgan Stanley. However, while digital delivery sales increased overall at a double digital pace, the growth of the average check fell sharply from more than 4% in 2015 to zero growth in 2019, data from the NPD Group shows.

One factor impacting food delivery is the use of aggregator sites such as FoodBoss, a site that allows users to compare the price and speed of digital delivery services for a particular restaurant.

Additionally, a report from Zion & Zion found consumers experience problems with multi-restaurant delivery websites/apps an average of 24.4% of the time. Problems include missing or incorrect food or side items, food being either too cold or too warm, as well as unacceptably late delivery.

Of people experiencing problems, 51% of them are “very frustrated,” although the level of frustration varies with each problem. Consumers with a missing or incorrect main dish report being “very frustrated” 58.2% of the time, while those with food delivered at the wrong temperature express significant frustration 38.7% of the time.

This also varies within age cohorts. When experiencing a problem, 46.9% of Millennials are “very frustrated,” but older consumers (39 and older) express significant frustration 61.2% of the time when issues occur.

Making a complaint is not as simple when using a delivery app compared to when there is a problem at a restaurant. Still, 31.4% are “very likely” to complain to the website/app if they have a problem—compared to 40.3% at a restaurant.

Problems and frustrations associated with delivery services might be hidden from restaurants, which can potentially hurt their businesses and their brands. The Zion & Zion report notes restaurants can pick which delivery services will feature their menus, so if one isn’t serving them well, they can move to another. Restaurants could also consider restricting meals that are available for delivery, as some foods are best served only on premises.