Home delivery platforms set to change in wake of covid 19

Key points

  • Food delivery apps modified to display body temperatures of delivery drivers
  • Contactless delivery on the rise
  • New payment models emerging for online order platforms
  • Independent operators bringing delivery drivers back in-house

While the COVID-19 lockdowns have generated a great deal of disruption to our industry’s food delivery model, they have also triggered some creative and entrepreneurial innovations – particularly with regard to home delivery. We can expect to see many of these adopted internationally as the industry evolves in the wake of COVID-19. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening:

* Food delivery apps displaying body temperature:

Food delivery apps in China have gone to the next level by displaying the body temperature of the delivery driver to reassure customers. Recognising the value of this innovation, food delivery platform Zomato has quickly adopted it in India – and may well roll it out into other territories including Australia. The app shows customers the body temperature of delivery drivers on the order tracking screen once food has been picked up for delivery, and is advising foodservice businesses not to hand food over for delivery unless the driver’s body temperature is within the normal range. Zomato has also started providing bills to customers which detail the body temperature of chefs and restaurant staff as a further reassurance.

* Contactless delivery on the rise:

Uber Eats, DoorDash, Foodora and others are now offering contactless delivery – which means food is left at the customers’ door and customers notified of delivery. Thanks to electronic pre-payment, there’s no need for customers to interact with the delivery staff. With no signs yet of a COVID-19 vaccine and health experts warning us to expect further outbreaks, contactless delivery seems set to become the new normal for at least the immediate future.

* Demand growing for ‘cook at home’ meal kits:

With so many people being asked to stay at home, consumers have increasingly turned to online food delivery platforms as a safer option than supermarket shopping. Many foodservice businesses have capitalised upon this by selling ‘cook at home’ meal kits – containing fresh ingredients and recipe instructions. This is fast establishing a new sub-market which is likely to remain part of the mix.

*  New payment models for online order platforms:

When the COVID-19 crisis hit back in March there were calls for food delivery platforms to modify their commission structure. Commissions of up to 35 per cent of individual food orders are not uncommon and many foodservice businesses which have had to sign up with a delivery platform in order to ‘pivot’ from dine-in to home delivery during lockdown had no choice but to accept the current structure. However, the major players have since made some concessions: Menulog has halved commissions on its pick up orders and waived activation fees, Uber Eats has removed service fees on pick up orders until June 30, and Door Dash has allowed foodservice businesses to sign up for free for 30 days. Following these initial modifications, Uber Eats announced commissions for independent restaurants would be reduced from 35 to 30 per cent and Deliveroo has temporarily dropped commissions on pick up orders and cut commission to five per cent for orders where the restaurant provides its own drivers. Industry insiders are now predicting the establishment of competitor platforms which replace commission fees with subscription models. Swiss-based Foodetective is currently expanding its service across Europe by promoting a commission-free model. Instead it asks foodservice businesses to pay a 28Euro monthly subscription fee – a set price per month with no additional fees, with the restaurant retaining 100 per cent of sales.

* Foodservice businesses bypassing third party delivery:

The high cost of commissions from third party online order platforms is generating a pushback from foodservice businesses, with many moving to bring deliveries in-house and employ their own fleet of delivery drivers. High profile Sydney restaurant group Merivale has established its own delivery fleet and Melbourne restaurants such as Bistro Gitan are encouraging customers to order from them directly as opposed to using third party platforms. According to Restaurant & Catering Australia, the number of restaurants organising delivery themselves is growing, with the third party platforms’ share of the market now starting to drop. A new Australian platform, HungryHungry, allows foodservice establishments to organise their own delivery and is currently processing more than 50,000 orders per week.