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For many people – and restaurants – food delivery is a lifesaver when in-person dining feels too risky or closed during the pandemic. That habit seems to persist here, and now everyone involved is trying to figure out how to make delivery work for them.
My colleague, Kate Conger, wrote Friday about the resilience of food delivery as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the United States. She talked to me about how restaurants and app companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash are re-imagining post-pandemic home delivery and dealing with complaints, including fees and complications. causing difficulties for restaurants and some diners.
Shira: A lot of restaurants across America are saying that people are packing up their dining room Again and that restaurant delivery orders haven’t fallen much from pandemic levels. How can both happen?
Kate: It’s clear that many people find these delivery apps useful during the pandemic and are willing to continue using them even at the extra cost. I hesitate to predict whether pandemic behavior will last forever, but I think the DoorDash executive I interviewed is probably right: People often find it hard to resist activities they find convenient. .
What do restaurants think of the possibility that delivery apps could be a permanent part of their business?
It’s a mix. There are people like May Seto, a restaurateur who has renovated her catering kitchen to make pizza that customers can only order takeout or through delivery apps. She believes delivery is here to stay and she is modifying her business to fit it. Other restaurant owners can’t wait to call back on delivery because they resent the cost and discomfort.
And there are people in the restaurant industry in between. They believe delivery can be lucrative and important, but some of them are lobbying for changes to make app services more sustainable for them, such as fee limits. that application companies charge.
Have the delivery app companies responded to any of these concerns?
In some cases, yes, and politicians have also intervened to force change. DoorDash is now giving restaurants more charging options. Instead of taking up to 30 percent or more of a restaurant’s sales, restaurants can pay 15 percent just for delivery and then pay more for extras like appearing higher in search results. application.
San Francisco permanently limits the fees delivery apps can charge restaurants, and other cities impose temporary limits during the pandemic. Some restaurant owners worry that the math won’t work for them if those fees go back to their old levels.
There are restaurateurs, delivery workers, and diners who have a great interest in food delivery apps. And app companies are mostly still unprofitable. Do you see these as temporary issues or is there something fundamentally wrong with food delivery?
It’s a growing pain and also a trade-off of convenience. Job hunters may find aspects of the delivery job unappealing, but it’s also a position they can apply for fairly easily and get started right away. Diners may not like a meal delivered that isn’t as fresh as what they get in a restaurant and costs more, but it’s a trade-off many people are willing to make to get the food on the table. Over the past year, many restaurants need delivery as their diner business shrinks, even if there are aspects they don’t like.
Can a restaurant be an attractive place to dine in-person even while preparing meals for home delivery? Grocery stores are struggling with that double duty.
It’s not always easy. The ability to perform well in both delivery and serving of meals depends to some extent on the actual space of the restaurant. For restaurants with small dining rooms, having a courier come to the door every few minutes in a space where everyone is dining can be disruptive. But I’ve also talked to restaurants that have more room and can reserve a counter for delivery orders and also have enough parking space for both direct customers and delivery people.
Why DoorDash and Uber are expanding into offer all kinds of things like groceries, alcohol and convenience store items? Is that an admission that it’s hard to make food delivery profitable or sustainable?
That is a good question. Restaurant business does not have high profit margins. That doesn’t leave much room when the money for a meal order is split between a restaurant, a courier and an app company.
Offering a wider range of products could make it easier for app companies if customers don’t want restaurant delivery. And it’s also a way to try to generate higher priced orders. If you order dinner from DoorDash and buy some from 7-Eleven, you’ll spend more and there’s more potential for everyone involved to profit.
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Before we go…
Unusual sales at Amazon: On Monday, Jeff Bezos will officially step down as Amazon’s chief executive officer. My colleague Karen Weise writes that the company has experienced an exodus of senior executives over the past 18 months. Maybe this is what happens when companies like Amazon and Google get too big and too rich?
Read more: Check out Karen and Dai Wakabayashi’s article from February about Amazon’s next CEO, Andy Jassy.
I will never look at gift cards the same way: A Microsoft engineer discovered a software glitch that allowed him to steal over $10 million worth of Xbox gift cards. He then exchanged them for Bitcoin and lived a lavish life with the money. Bloomberg News explains the full cap and how he was captured.
Don’t curse your headphones: If you own wireless headphones, you’ve probably been disappointed that they don’t connect correctly to your computer or other gizmos. Lauren Dragan from Wirecutter, The New York Times’ product launch site, explains why and how to solve the problem.
Today is Friday. It was almost a day off weekend. Let’s enjoy it Muffin enthusiastically does dog (or puppy) rowing movements.
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