Third-party delivery melts down
… and (exclusive!) Square acquires GoParrot
You’ve probably heard about the Grubhub thing. Maybe you missed the DoorDash thing? More on that below, but first:
Square acquires GoParrot
An Expedite exclusive for you: Square acquired GoParrot, a digital ordering and marketing platform for restaurants, in a deal that closed last week. Per a release: “With GoParrot, Square sellers can offer an exceptional customer experience with a customizable, white-label app that merchants can design to be unique to their brand.”
It’s the latest acquisition in the space, as larger technology platforms snap up smaller and targeted companies to round out their offerings. Square will continue to support all of GoParrot’s existing customers and they shouldn’t experience any immediate changes, according to a company representative.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A three-hour DoorDash outage left customers hungry and couriers upset
DoorDash went down for three hours last Thursday between 4:20pm and 7:20pm PDT. Both the consumer apps and the Dasher app — that’s the one the company’s couriers use to receive orders — were affected, effectively stopping orders in their tracks.
As we are wont to do, many hungry customers took to Twitter to lament the outage. Some who placed and paid for orders prior to the outage say they didn’t receive their food, or received it hours late. Some restaurants that received orders prior to the outage prepared the food, but no couriers picked it up. Couriers that picked up orders before the outage later couldn’t access customer addresses, so didn’t know where to take their deliveries. Support lines were jammed for both couriers and diners.
Even I found myself inadvertently caught up in this. Did I complain about it on the internet? Sure did!
I placed a direct order with a restaurant that uses Toast’s direct ordering software. The order was accepted and prepared by the restaurant, but an hour passed with no notification the food had been picked up or was on its way to my door. It was coming via DoorDash Drive, the company’s white label service meant to deliver orders restaurants receive through other channels. I knew this because I’ve written a newsletter about restaurant technology for nine years; it’s unlikely the average customer would have known. Instead, the delay would have looked a whole lot like the restaurant’s fault.
Given the huge influence of online ordering and delivery in today’s restaurant industry, this is tricky territory.
“This is the disadvantage of not having a support team watching orders. We immediately disabled DoorDash within minutes of the outage,” Chris Webb, CEO of direct ordering company ChowNow, which has its own support team, told me. “Companies that don’t employ support teams are solely reliant on tech working 100 percent of the time, which obviously isn’t the case.”
Data from Tattle, a customer feedback platform backed by chef Tom Colicchio and other industry leaders, shows that the delivery service outage likely had a negative effect on the restaurants themselves. Information gathered from 5,000 restaurant locations representing 40 different brands shows a 31.6 percent increase in “incidents” during Thursday’s outage as related to the past five Thursdays. Tattle defines “incident” as a guest rating their experience a 3 or lower on a 5-point scale. While Tattle can’t say that the uptick in negative restaurant interactions came solely from the DoorDash outage, a rep for the company concluded “clearly there was an impact.”
My own Thursday order arrived cold and a couple of hours late after DoorDash fixed the problem. It was annoying — I was hungry — but I didn’t lose money on the meal. The outage affected independent contractors’ ability to work. Some couriers reported missing hours of work during one of the busiest times of day; others say that the delivery hiccups dinged their ratings, effectively threatening their good standing. DoorDash’s customer service account on Twitter has been super active since the event, addressing a huge amount of online complaints.
Restaurants reported receiving an email on Friday, offering the companies “sincerest apologies.”
“Please know that we take reliability very seriously,” it said. “Our engineering team makes preventing issues like this our top priority and has since audited, diagnosed, and fixed the issue.”