In the on-demand food delivery vertical alone, revenue is expected to reach $94 billion this year. Other verticals, like beauty, parking, health, shipping, and marijuana, are seeing significant gains, as well. Although the space is maturing, investors are still seeing great growth opportunities. Any number of on-demand delivery startups has the potential to take over the space if it continues to grow as its current pace.
To understand where that growth might occur, we need to take a step back and examine which business models are proving most successful in the on-demand delivery space and how startups are implementing those business models for financial gain.
“Growth hacking” along these lines is enough to gag a maggot, but there is the more “benign” approach of Google that says, “Let’s add an order button to every restaurant for the ‘benefit of the customer’” that is equally reprehensible. The business is effectively paying a searcher “head tax” to the food delivery companies on brand searches where the consumer just wanted to get the restaurant phone number, and the searcher was offered a big order button that is so much more convenient to click.
In Google’s case, it would be a simple matter to provide the local restaurant the option to turn off the Order CTA in the dashboard. Instead, if a business complains to Google, they foist them on the delivery service for resolution. (Or not.)
The other day, Uber Eats announced a new service that struck me at first as a little surprising but, once I absorbed the idea, seemed strangely inevitable. In select cities like Austin and San Diego, you can now order food ahead of time, monitor your order status, and arrive at the restaurant just in time to begin dining, your table ready and waiting for you. This on-demand dine-in service is meant to remove time and effort from the experience of eating out, and it may also help restaurants fill empty tables during off-peak times by enabling special time-based incentives.
When I say it seems inevitable that an app would eventually “solve” waiting for your food at restaurants, I have two things in mind. The first is a quote from Twitter co-founder Ev Williams that, to me, strikes at the root of contemporary trends in innovation. The second point I want to observe here is that the highly representative user experience created by Uber Eats is taking place on a mobile phone.
Jeff Bezos likes to say, “Your margin is my opportunity.” Like with Whole Foods and grocery, Amazon moves into new verticals and applies its logistics-first approach to carve out margins, then undercut competitors. It is even getting into shipping, in a move to own its delivery infrastructure.
The next local conquest could be restaurants. For Amazon, it’s not just about serving food, but doing so in a way that aligns with its forte: delivering things to your home. The biggest clues and synergies lie in its established delivery and logistics playbook as well as its recent $575 million investment in Deliveroo.
Enter the cloud kitchen.
Standing out in the mobile ordering space isn’t easy. GrubHub, Uber Eats, Door Dash, and dozens of other mobile ordering platforms are competing for business in what’s already become a tight market. So how does an outsider break into the business, and break away from the competition?
For companies like Allset, the answer is to create entirely new services that competitors aren’t offering.
What does the big money for DoorDash mean for the crowded on-demand delivery space? The market is growing as a whole, but there isn’t all that much growth share to go around. DoorDash CEO and founder Tony Xu has said as much. “If you look at where the U.S. is, there’s two players gaining share. It’s DoorDash and Uber. And DoorDash is growing 65% faster,” Xu said in a conversation with Recode editor-at-large and co-founder Kara Swisher earlier this year.
Partnerships between on-demand technology providers and global restaurant brands are generating big bucks and creating buzz about what’s possible for the ever-evolving on-demand delivery industry. Tech companies allow retailers and QSRs to keep up with the latest standards for convenience, and partnering with a brand name like Starbucks or McDonald’s can expand the audience of potential users for a growing on-demand startup.
On this week’s edition of the Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: CS Hudson, Baidu Maps, XYO Protocol’s blockchain lab, Ariana Grande + YouTube, Alexa’s location alerts, Starbucks + Uber.
Starbucks announced on Friday that it’s partnering with Uber to launch on-demand delivery at 2,000 locations. The partnership is a sign of the “near me” local search era for retail, one in which proximity and convenience have become paramount, outweighing even loyalty.
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