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Two restaurants, one order, one delivery fee (finally!)
I need more than two hands to count the number of times I’ve been pitched on some version of the following:
It’s a classic food delivery conundrum: You want tacos but your partner wants Thai. Now thanks to [insert name of solution here], you can have it all!
Usually this sentiment comes from so-called virtual food halls or ghost kitchen brands or some purpose-built tech platform in a particular location. Today it comes from one of the market leaders: Uber Eats.
Uber just announced it supports multi-store ordering. Customers in the US can place orders from multiple restaurants, convenience stores, and liquor stores (or a combination of two of the three) in one order, with one delivery fee.
But wait! This is not yet the sanity saver of our dreams.
That’s because real-time logistics are complicated. Real-time logistics involving perishable prepared food are more complicated.
I asked delivery expert and friend of Expedite Scott Landers, the co-founder and CEO of Figure 8, a restaurant consulting agency, to explain why multiple orders from multiple restaurants in one delivery is so challenging.
“Quality delivery from one restaurant is hard enough -- missing items, late deliveries, and food temperature are all top concerns,” he said. “Coordinating between two independent restaurants compounds these challenges.”
It’s true; Uber must be very confident about its data and algorithms in order to take this one on. But there are some conditions.Uber will recommend a second restaurant or store only after a customer puts the first order in their cart. Additional merchants are recommended based on location and availability. Per an Uber rep, distances between merchants to bundle can vary and are dependent on factors like time of day and courier availability to make sure that the orders can actually be delivered together.
That is: all of those couples squabbling over dinner still have to decide who gets to pick the first restaurant.
Quality, convenience… algorithms?
Platforms have offered some form of this functionality for some time. DoorDash debuted its “double dash” feature two years ago, which lets customers add convenience add-ons to a restaurant order once it’s placed.
In a 2022 Redit thread titled, “Is it a dick move to DoubleDash?” several couriers reported that they actually enjoy the two-pickup, one-dropoff orders — as long as customers tip appropriately for each order.
That’s not the same as so-called stacked orders, which leverage a courier’s location to pick up multiple orders to be delivered to different locations. Both situations make delivery economics work slightly better; using good tech to efficiently deploy couriers can save time, money, and other resources, like gas. They can also make deliveries take a little bit longer — but DoorDash customers can pay extra for express delivery. (There’s always a way!)
In Uber’s case, restaurants and other stores don’t opt in or opt out. The customer pays just one delivery fee, but there’s no change to how any other fees are calculated. Uber One subscribers — those who pay a monthly fee for free delivery from certain restaurants — also get free delivery on applicable bundled orders.
> New York hands a rare setback to big delivery. In late September, a judge ruled in favor of a minimum-wage increase for New York City’s app-based delivery drivers. It’s a (dare I say) rare win for gig workers who rely on platforms like DoorDash for work. Delivery couriers will earn at least $17.96 per hour, not including tips, after a judge denied an injunction requested by Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. The platforms had sued the city to keep the minimum wage from taking effect.
One New York delivery company, Relay, was granted an injunction. Relay operates in a handful of cities, but doesn’t take delivery orders. It instead handles logistics for restaurants that need a fleet of workers to deliver them. Relay needs time to renegotiate its contracts with restaurants in order to comply with the new minimum wage; it’s currently allowed to operate as usual without the increase pending the result of the original lawsuit.
The new wage requirement, which raises the minimum wage nearly $13 per hour, is a result of the law passed by the City Council in September 2021 that required the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to study the pay and working conditions of delivery workers.
> Chicago votes to end tipped minimum wage. The City Council voted last week to raise wages for tipped workers by 8 percent on July 1, and to continue annual increases until they meet the city’s full minimum wage of $15.80 in 2028. The current tipped minimum wage — that is, the lowest base pay for employees who make the majority of their money through tips from customers — is $9.48 per hour. The agreement, part of a compromise between the Illinois Restaurant Association and the legislation’s backers, is a win for One Fair Wage, an organization dedicated to ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
> Flexible pricing in restaurants is slowly (slowly) becoming normalized. I shared some thoughts about this with MAD Digest, a new newsletter from the team behind Copenhagen’s MAD, an industry educational resource. Blatant pay-to-play tech schemes still feel icky to me — as I shared — but there is a way to build dynamic pricing into the restaurant industry. It’s complicated.
> Do we need the next generation of pizza ordering? Trick question, because it’s coming! Domino’s is using Microsoft’s AI prowess to enhance its ordering and personalization efforts. Domino’s said it’ll start testing generative AI at stores and with customers within the next six months. I’m not positive what that will look like, but I’m sure they’ll let us know.
> Wow I’d like to see details of the agreement between DoorDash and the Cheesecake Factory. DoorDash recently and proudly announced that the delivery company and 200(ish)-location restaurant are extending their exclusive third-party delivery arrangement through the end of 2026. In an announcement sent to me by a DoorDash rep, the company notes that the Cheesecake Factory was an early and very important DoorDash partner as the company worked to expand into the suburbs — a market well-served by the restaurant with a pages-long menu and fan following. The end of 2026 will mark a decade of DoorDash exclusivity, a rarity as delivery companies keep growing.
> Food trucks are going electric. Generators are noisy, smelly, and can cause especially undesirable conditions for workers in trucks. Now many mobile food businesses are going electric.
> Jobs at bars and restaurants are (finally) back to pre-Covid levels. September data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that bars and restaurants added 61,000 jobs in September, reaching February 2020 levels.