A deep-dive into DoorDash app: search, discounts and balance between use cases

December 2020

DoorDash is a food delivery company that was started in the US in 2013. It is now the undisputed leader in its category with healthy unit economics, without having a first-mover advantage and facing fierce competition from players like Uber, Grubhub, and Postmates. DoorDash has conquered the restaurant industry but it has a broader vision around supporting local small businesses to help them thrive in the digital world and is growing quickly in other categories like grocery. The company will go public very soon and we have highlighted for you 8 best practices from the DoorDash app.

  • DoorDash introduced the DashPass to lock loyal customers: It's a $9.99 monthly subscription program to convince clients to use DoorDash more frequently, while paying less per order. It offers free delivery and reduces service fees on a selection of restaurants. On average, users save $4-5 per order meaning that the plan is profitable if you make more than two orders per month. Today, the DashPass has more than 5m users. The idea beyond this subscription program is not to generate additional revenues through subscriptions but to lock users on DoorDash to increase their usage and make sure that they don't churn to another competitor. It's an attractive subscription program, but not the best one on the food delivery market as it's relatively expensive and it's constrained to a limited selection of restaurants.

  • The search experience is a key issue: DoorDash offers many customer journeys to find the restaurant that you are looking for. You have several options to choose from, like delivery timing, type of food, type of delivery, ratings, offers etc. These options are highlighted at the top of the home page with smart tags. On the home page, you can also access a feed customized with special offers and recommended restaurants based on your preferences. DoorDash iterates a lot on this topic and we observe a clear homogenization of the search experience across the food delivery apps (see the similarities between DoorDash and UberEats for instance).

  • DoorDash wants to empower restaurants and plays a big role in their marketing: DoorDash offers merchants an online channel to distribute their products as well as a last mile delivery logistic service. But DoorDash also helps them promote their products directly to customers through a wide variety of marketing services. On DoorDash, restaurants can run promotion campaigns, set up loyalty program and pay to be pushed forward on the marketplace through merchandised sections.

  • DoorDash bets on pickup as a distinguishing feature. DoorDash has decided to showcase its pickup service, while other delivery apps consider it as just a delivery option for restaurants and does not allocate a specific part of the app to this service. In the DoorDash app, this means - for instance - a nav bar item entirely dedicated to pickup and a dedicated user flow.

  • The convenience/grocery items are mixed with the restaurant offer: DoorDash displays grocery as a sub-category, on the same level as the types of cuisine for instance. Both UberEats and Postmates have adopted the same approach. This could either mean that ordering a meal from a restaurant or purchasing grocery items are part of the same use case in consumers' minds, or that the grocery part of the business is not significant enough to be showcased on its own in the app. The convenience category is likely to be put forward in the app as DoorDash is moving fast: they launched new partnerships with 7-Eleven, Walgreens or CVS to develop the convenience offer last April, and went even further in August by introducing DashMart, DoorDash's own store of convenience and grocery items.

  • Like everyone in this market, DoorDash likes discounts: Discounts and promotions are a key factor in deciding what app to use, as users are in general not attached to a specific food delivery app. Contrary to other players like goPuff, DoorDash does not offer a reward program, but it does not mean that it doesn’t have an aggressive discount strategy. The onboarding process is full of discounts, and users can find additional promotions in the restaurant menus.

  • The restaurant discovery experience could be enhanced. The personalization of the home page is a strategic element, since users are less adventurous on delivery apps. They usually only order from the restaurants they know or the types of cuisine they like. DoorDash displays many unpersonalized categories (nearby restaurants, national favorites, etc) that probably have business explanations but can hurt the user experience. According to many app reviews, people highly value personalization: they would like to see more recommendations on the home page based on the types of meal they like. DoorDash has a "Your favourites" section but it only includes historical orders. On the competition side, Postmates displays "recommended for you" restaurants and UberEats has a "like" feature that allows the user to save favourite restaurants which gives insights on the user's preferences.

  • Improving the UI menu would also increase the conversion rate. The DoorDash team made two main changes in the latest version. They added a navigation at the top of the screen to prevent back-and-forths between the restaurant menu and the item categories. Also, they added item pictures that substantially improve the likelihood to add to cart.

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