Food Delivery Firms Turn Focus to Merchant and Driver Loyalty

restaurant delivery

This week in restaurants, DoorDash adds driver features, Grubhub upgrades white-label offerings and Chipotle automates.

One of DoorDash’s key competitive advantages over other aggregators in the United States, its geographical coverage, depends on the widespread availability of drivers. As such, hiring and retention are a top priority, making employee satisfaction a high-ranking concern.

Against this backdrop, the delivery firm announced Thursday (Feb. 9) a tool to help its Dashers (i.e., drivers) identify the most affordable gas in the area via an integration with gas station finder app GasBuddy, a move that builds on the aggregator’s GasRewards program launched last year.

“Dashers come to DoorDash to earn how, when, and where they want. We’re proud to support Dashers through partnerships that help them keep more of their earnings so they can pay bills and save for the future,” Trevor Reader, head of Dasher marketing, said in a statement. “Our new partnership with GasBuddy will help Dashers find and save on gas at a time when many of their other bills are rising.”

Indeed, PYMNTS’ research reveals that gas price anxieties are top-of-mind for many right now, especially with perceptions of inflation outmatching the already sizable measured rates.

Findings from PYMNTS’ December study, “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: In It For The Long Haul,” which draws from a survey of nearly 2,400 U.S. consumers, finds that consumers perceive gas prices as having increased 43%. This share is nearly twice what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was reporting at the time, a 26% increase.

Grubhub Nixes Restaurant Fee on Direct Delivery Orders

As DoorDash looks to boost driver loyalty, Grubhub is focused on merchants. The Just Eat aggregator announced several changes to its Direct white-label platform, which enables restaurants to build their own branded eCommerce sites, on Thursday.

“A robust digital footprint is key for merchants as they look to reach more diners across ordering channels,” Kate Green, vice president of restaurant services and innovation at Grubhub, said in a statement. “Our restaurant innovation team is hyper-focused on gathering and analyzing feedback from merchants and data from our platforms. We put these insights into action to further support restaurants’ goals by building products and tools that help drive their business forward.”

These changes include adding the ability for restaurants to display their websites built with Direct on their Google Search Business Profiles and to list those sites as the preferred online ordering option on Google platforms. Additionally, the aggregator now offers the ability for consumers to place their orders via Direct sites without a Grubhub account as a guest.

Plus, the delivery service also announced it was waiving the $1.99/order fee on delivery orders that come through Direct platforms and are fulfilled via Grubhub drivers in an effort to cultivate “deeper relationships” with its restaurant customers.

Chipotle Automates Production

In addition to improving its rewards offerings, fast-casual giant Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has nearly 3,200 locations across five countries, stated on a call with analysts Tuesday (Feb. 7) discussing its fourth-quarter 2022 financial results that it is looking to cut labor costs and boost profits by automating its food production.

“I’m thrilled to share that together with Hyphen, we are developing our first automated digital make-line prototype, which we will test and learn on, and we expect to have it in our Cultivate Center [test kitchen] in the first half of this year,” CEO Brian Niccol said.

Notably, PYMNTS research finds that automation can actually have its downsides for restaurant efficiency, having a small negative impact on hiring and retention.

The 2022 edition of PYMNTS’ “Restaurant Readiness Index,” which was created in collaboration with Paytronix and drew from a survey of more than 500 quick-service and full-service restaurant managers across the country, revealed that 50% of restaurants that are highly reliant on automation and 51% of restaurants moderately reliant on automation reported difficulty in retaining employees in the last three months. In contrast, a lower share (46%) of the overall sample said the same.