Food Delivery Apps are Bound to Fail

Nov 25, 2022
3 min

I completed over 500 deliveries (with a 5 star rating) on food delivery apps. In that position, I never understood why the companies providing these applications were worth billions of dollars. While there were clients whose reasons for ordering were obvious (disabled, kids, old, etc), the notion of people paying exorbitant fees — in any other case — to avoid picking up food seemed ludicrous. More so that this value proposition was worth billions of dollars. A few years have passed since then. I understand it now.

And it’s not about delivering food either.

The Value of a Delivery

You use your human hands to click a button on your metal tablet (called a phone), then up to 60 minutes later, another human brings food to your shelter. Of course, this convenience comes at a cost: For one, there is the restaurant creating your food. In addition, you must compensate the person who delivers it. Then, there is the middleman who demands a cut for orchestrating the entire thing. Obviously, the entire point is to have your food delivered without effort, right?

Wrong. If this was the case, then perhaps the complaints about “expensive” fees would be justified. In addition, companies “worth” billions wouldn’t have to subsidize (read: bribe) customers to use their applications. So while allowing the customer to receive food without effort is a benefit of food delivery, it’s not the main point. What is it then? So obvious that it’s not obvious at all… The real value proposition of food delivery is showcased from a view of the 1% (in wealth).

The minimum net worth of the top 1% is roughly $11 million. Yet the average American makes $1.7 million in their entire lifetime. Such that the 1% no longer needs to trade their time for money. Even in the case where a rich person does work, it’s preferable to spend more time doing things that are economically valuable; as opposed to chores. So that person purchases landscapers, cleaners, cooks, private jets, and any other service in an effort to save the limited amount of time you have in this universe.

“Money is like sex. Not important when you have it. A big deal when you don’t”.

— Someone

Food delivery is about saving the customer time. Many jobs are. However, saving the customer time is the sole value of food delivery. Everything else is a bonus. In other words, food delivery is not for people who have time to waste. It’s not for people who are lazy. It’s not for the “middle class”. It’s not for the poor. The economics of food delivery are not supported by the common man. Yet so much has been spent advertising it to us.

It should be no surprise then, that the writing is on the table for the modern food delivery app. However, the demand must be met in some manner. What’s the alternative? A human assistant. The average American spends $33.89 per order on food delivery (getcircuit): If you order three meals a day, that’s $37,110 per year, or $1,569 short of the median salary for a personal assistant. The benefit being that you can trust an assistant to ensure your order is correct, untampered, and delivered on time.

Nine out of ten customers have had a food delivery order go wrong (getcircuit). That’s because the current system isn’t efficient: No one in the entire process has a stake in ensuring your order is correct. The restaurant gets paid when the order is made. The driver gets paid when the food is delivered. Customer support gets paid when your order is messed up. The company gets hacked. Who has the customer’s interest in mind? The investors…

A person who is unfamiliar with this issue may suggest that the driver checks the order, but this won’t solve the problem. First, the driver has no jurisdiction over the correctness of the order. You can’t just walk into the backroom kitchen and start making what wasn’t made (with the exception of Popeyes). In addition, this suggestion has already been implemented. These applications tell you to ensure the food is correct, so when the girl at Chick-Fil-A hands you a tamper resistant bag, you ignore that message. Otherwise, you will be accused of eating the customer’s fries.

And das not good… Anyways, here’s your food.

What’s the Issue?

There are two major issues with modern food delivery applications.

  1. Customers cannot ensure food is not tampered with (security).
  2. Customers cannot ensure the food content (order) is correct.

For this reason, it’s not recommended to order food delivery from restaurants that

  1. Do NOT use tamper resistant bags.
  2. Frequently miss items in your order.

This leaves you with an extremely limited amount of options. Such that the target audience of a food delivery app — rich people — might as well hire personal assistants who cover more for less.

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