Instacart, DoorDash, Others Turn Focus Away From Food as Pandemic Wanes


If there are any challenges to pandemic recovery — and somehow there will be — we can start with how mobile order-ahead services must morph as the food sector stares down a possible dip in at-home dining and the pent-up “get out” movement that’s set to break big.

On the one hand are tens of millions of people who have been scared into sticking close to home for two years, ordering prepared meals delivered to their door. On the other are the delivery firms that are reading the signs and making countermoves. Instacart is generating headlines lately marking the trend, announcing on Thursday (March 17) that same-day delivery from more than 1,000 Office Depot and OfficeMax stores nationwide is now available from the platform.

This comes after the February announcement that Instacart is partnering with home improvement chain Lowe’s on deliveries of nonfood goods.

In that announcement, Instacart said, “Our strategic partnership with Lowe’s signals our continued role as a retail enablement platform, elevating partner businesses so they can better serve customers in an increasingly connected world.”

While its homepage identifies Instacart as a place to “order groceries for delivery or pickup today” its use of the term “retail enablement platform” hints at more deals like these, and the possible recognition that home delivery of groceries may fall off as the year progresses.

See also: Instacart to Begin Deliveries for Office Depot

Leveraging Logistics

For its part, DoorDash was making nonfood delivery pacts left and right in 2021.

It kicked off in May with DoorDash and Rite Aid offering same-day delivery of nonprescription health, convenience, and wellness essentials. A month later, it was a PetSmart partnership for on-demand delivery of pet supplies and accessories from PetSmart locations using DoorDash’s white-label fulfillment platform.

See also: DoorDash Announces on-Demand Office Supply Delivery

In September 2021, Bed Bath & Beyond teamed with DoorDash for on-demand delivery of essential homeware products and items from more than 700 Bed Bath & Beyond locations and some 120 buybuy BABY stores. Then, in November, it was a pact with Ulta Beauty stores offering same day in several cities “with plans to expand and rollout more broadly in 2022.”

DoorDash has described itself as a “last-mile logistics platform” for the past few years, placing more emphasis on differentiating away from prepared food delivery than its rideshare rivals.

First announced in 2020, Uber Direct offers a courier-style service where available drivers can pick up and drop off nonfood packages for Uber customers.

Lyft Delivery also debuted in 2020 as a delivery option similar to Uber Direct.

See also: Uber Expands Delivery Options