DoorDash taking steps to maintain its place in post-pandemic food world in N.J.

The surge in success for food delivery apps such as DoorDash during the pandemic is easy to explain: People needed food and restaurants needed a new way to get it to them.

Neither really had a choice.

Now that restaurants in New Jersey have regained the ability to be at full capacity and many have new and improved outdoor eating spaces – seemingly increasing options for revenue – Doordash officials are working to ensure that they continue to be a big part of the new normal.

And they’re doing it with choice.

So said David London, the head of government relations in the East for DoorDash.

“One of the key pieces that I think that restaurants are starting to realize is: Where is the customer? What is the customer looking for?” he asked and then answered. “I think customers are looking for convenience. They’re looking for selection. And they’re looking for choice. 

“So, with all those things, I think our platform helps them. And I think this relationship will only continue to grow, post pandemic.”

That choice presents itself in a variety of ways, London said.

DoorDash, which essentially has become a delivery service for many restaurants that never had one, said it recently has expanded its partnership options – each with a different price point/commission fee (15%, 25% and 30%), depending on the how big a delivery area, additional marketing, and how big a presence the restaurant wants on the app.

“We’re trying to get more options there for our restaurant partners,” London said. “I think a lot of people think that it’s just DoorDash marketplace, where you get onto our app, send in the order, our dasher picks up the food and delivers it.”

London said DoorDash’s growth is based on additional options, such as DoorDash storefront, which allows restaurants to create their own individual website. It’s powered by DoorDash, but the orders go straight to the restaurant themselves. There is no commission charge.

“I think that’s one of the growing pieces of our business because we listen to feedback from our restaurant and merchant partners on that particular one,” he said.

The impact has been noticeable in the industry. Dana Lancellotti, the new CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said DoorDash has proven to be a friend of the industry. 

“DoorDash has been a lifeline to numerous restaurants that ordinarily would not have been able to provide delivery services during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “Food delivery services have also (served) as a bonus to customers who might have been uncomfortable with in-person dining.”

Lancellotti credited DoorDash with keeping costs down during the pandemic.

“While third-party delivery fees are usually outrageous to restaurant owners, DoorDash prides themselves on having the lowest fees amongst competitors, even going out of their way to offer more free add-ons, like advertising, for their clients,” she said.

DoorDash also is giving money directly to restaurants. Its five-year $200-million Main Street Strong Pledge included $10 million for a restaurant grant program. More than 120 New Jersey restaurants received grants between $2,500 and $5,000. 

London said he hoped the grants would help pay for infrastructure improvements, such as outdoor heating lamps, or to just help make payroll.

“We wanted to help restaurants get through those tough winter months,” he said.

DoorDash’s internal polling said the efforts – and the app – are paying off. The company said its survey showed:

  • 73% of restaurants believe that third-party delivery is good for the restaurant industry;
  • 75% of restaurants agree that DoorDash has allowed them to reach new customers;
  • 69% of restaurants say they have acquired new dine-in customers because of DoorDash.

Numbers such as these give London and DoorDash confidence their business model will continue to grow, post-pandemic.

DoorDash already has made a believer out of Lancellotti.

“We think the convenience and ease of utilizing DoorDash and other similar online technologies are here to stay,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to align ourselves with companies like DoorDash that support, educate, and advocate for the restaurant industry.”