Currently the traditional model of delivery, where a customer contacts a local restaurant directly, still accounts for nearly 90 percent of all food delivery orders in the USA, with two-thirds of those being ordered by phone.
However as technology has shown in many other commercial markets, the ability and desire to purchase or order anything online is growing fast.
Recently the worldwide market for food delivery has been estimated to be worth over USD 87 billion, which is around only one percent of the total food market, and four percent of food sales by restaurants or fast-food chains.
Americans themselves were expected to spend over USD 12.5 billion a year by 2019 on delivery food. With the estimated growth by around 3.5 percent per year for the next five years, many companies and startups are trying to get their piece of the pie.
Online food companies on dial
Companies like Deliveroo, UberEats, and Eat24 have slowly grown to become the middle-man between the customer and restaurants throughout many cities in North America and the UK. The concept is to basically offer as large a choice of restaurants as possible based on your address.
Two food delivery models have been developed that both involve dealing with numerous restaurants but handle the delivery of food completely different.
One model is operated by aggregators. These aggregators take orders online or via app, and pass the order along to each individual restaurant who then handles delivery themselves.
The other model can be defined as ‘new delivery’, which requires the company taking the orders to also control the logistics and delivery.
Weekly meal packages delivery taking root
Deliveries from restaurants are not the only avenue that has been taken for companies who are trying to exploit the growing market of food delivery services. Startups across the United States have found that offering weekly meal packages have also been a lucrative and attractive way to capture the growing healthy eating trend developing across the country.
One company called Gobble initially pursued this course as their entry into the food delivery market, but after five years of prepared meals decided to change her model to quick, one-pan meals.
Owner Ooshma Garg said that the company eventually learnt that ‘getting food in a takeout box was not satisfying [to some working parents] because people felt guilty about not actually cooking.’ (Fortune, Fenn) This specific trend of delivering ingredients instead of meals themselves has grown to include some billion dollar companies such as: Blue Apron, and HelloFresh.
Being able to offer a meal that people want has not been the only challenge facing many, if not all of these companies vying for food delivery supremacy. Everything from marketing to delivery has required a ton of capital and research to separate from the crowd and offer a superior service.
With the ability to personalize the ordering experience, once a customer signs up for one of these websites, 80 percent will either never, or rarely venture to another.
Food delivery speed a major factor
For the deliveries themselves, the speed of delivery is considered to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to customer satisfaction. Which means customers are most likely to check ‘food delivery near me’ when ordering.
If ordering a meal for dinner or lunch, most maximum most people were willing to wait was up to 1 hour. Also the majority of meals were found to be delivered to the home (at 82 percent), rather than to work, with a spike over the weekends.
One can speculate as to why this is the case, but with the fast pace lifestyle of the average American, at home deliveries may slowly become the new battleground for all styles of restaurants.