UPDATE: Nov. 13, 2020: This article has been updated to include additional initiatives from DoorDash and Grubhub.
As restaurants struggle to keep their operations chugging through dining room closures and capacity restrictions, major third-party delivery platforms have rolled out new discounts and resources for their partners.
It’s a reflection of the tenuous, and sometimes fraught, relationship between restaurant and delivery provider. According to Yelp data, restaurants have been permanently closing at a 60% rate since June 15, resulting in more than 15,000 shuttered eateries at that time. As much as 85% of independent restaurants in the U.S. could go under by the end of 2020, the Independent Restaurant Coalition predicts.
It’s in food delivery platforms’ best interest to invest in assets that can help grow off-premise sales for restaurants on the brink of closure — both to keep their pool of potential business from shrinking and to gain a more positive perception from restaurants and consumers that have cried out against the practice of charging high commission fees amid the pandemic.
Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and Grubhub have all offered restaurants some level of financial break during this period, and they have also rolled out curbside pickup features, loan programs, initiatives to support Black-owned restaurants and new website technology. But which company is doing the most for restaurants during the pandemic? Restaurant Dive has compiled timelines that show what each of the top four delivery providers has offered during this time.
Check out our findings below:
DoorDash added a pickup product feature that tracks customer locations so restaurants will be alerted when a diner is arriving to collect their order. This feature is designed to reduce wait times for customers who opt-in to share their location data while the DoorDash app is running so restaurants can have food ready upon their arrival. The company has offered pickup since 2018.
• DoorDash launched DoorDash Storefront, which allows restaurants to create their own turnkey online stores. Diners can order takeout or delivery directly from a restaurant's website or app, which connects to DoorDash's fulfillment network to complete the order. Restaurants remain in control of the diner experience. There are no setup, software, or merchant delivery fees for independent restaurants in 2020.
• DoorDash expanded its DoorDash Weblinks program, a service where the third-party delivery platform manages a restaurant's digital ordering experience by directing diners to DoorDash's website. There are 0% commission for restaurants with five or fewer locations on all weblink orders for delivery and pickup through 2020.
• DoorDash partnered with financial nonprofit Kiva to match loans for U.S.-based, Black-owned restaurants participating in its Black-owned Business program. DoorDash will seed a revolving loan fund starting at $150,000, and could grow the investment in coming months. All Kiva loans are crowdsourced and provided at 0% interest with no fees.
• DoorDash added an in-app feature on DoorDash and Caviar that highlights independent Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs. Participating restaurants across 30 states are searchable with the keywords "Black owned" and are identified by a banner on their brand page. Users will also view Black-owned carousels via DoorDash in specific markets, including Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City; San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay; Cleveland; and Richmond, Virginia. Caviar customers will see the carousels in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay and Brooklyn and Queens in New York City.
• DoorDash will waive delivery fees for restaurant partners in the Black-owned Business program on DoorDash and Caviar through 2020. Independent, Black-owned restaurants in the U.S. and Canada can sign up for DoorDash and Caviar commission-free for 30 days.
DoorDash launched contactless pickup via QR codes. Diners can scan a QR code in a restaurant's window, entry or near the cash register to place a pickup order and pay without touching communal menus or payment systems. This is a 0% commission product, and DoorDash will waive credit card processing fees through Dec. 31.
• DoorDash announced it partnered with fintech BlueVine in late April to provide a customized Payment Protection Program application for DoorDash's restaurant partners.
• DoorDash will donate the small proceeds from this partnership to the California Restaurant Association's Restaurants Care/COVID-19 grants program, which offers one-time financial support to restaurant workers experiencing COVID-19 disruption. DoorDash will also donate to the Opportunity Fund's Small Business Relief Fund, which raises support for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, with a special focus on businesses run by women, people of color and immigrants. DoorDash will match donations to these funds three to one.
DoorDash is allocating $2 million in cold weather grants to local restaurants with three of fewer locations in Chicago, Denver, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and San Jose, California, according to an emailed statement. Restaurants will be selected to receive individual grants of $5,000 based on factors including local climate, limits on indoor dining and local population. Eligible restaurants must have also employed 50 staff members or fewer in 2019 and brought in $3 million or less in 2019 annual revenue per location.
The grants will be administered by Hello Alice, a smart technology that connects small businesses with curated resources, and can be put toward winterization efforts such as heating equipment or more personal protective equipment in anticipation of increased indoor dining. Restaurants can apply on the Hello Alice's website starting Oct. 16.
DoorDash is also launching "Winter Wednesday" promotions throughout the season, starting with $0 delivery fees on orders for local restaurants in December and additional discounts for DashPass customers during the month. The company will also provide restaurant partners with access to discounted cold-weather equipment and educational materials on best practices.
The delivery platform has also extended the promotional period for its commission-free online ordering system, DoorDash Storefront, to new and existing restaurant partners with five or fewer locations through March 31, 2021. DoorDash will also offer new cold weather gear to Dashers.
DoorDash announced a five-year, $200 million Main Street Strong pledge that includes investments, programs, products, services and benefits. Initiatives include a multi-year partnership with the National Urban League to create a program for Dashers of color to "attain new job skills and entrepreneurial success, and build generational wealth via financial literacy training, educational funding, job programs and more." Later this quarter, DoorDash will also announce details about a $12 million Dasher rewards program that will last through May 2021, and is increasing its cold weather grant program to $10 million to expand into additional markets, including some in Canada.
Next year, DoorDash will launch a Main Street Strong Accelerator program created to help women and minority local entrepreneurs "gain access to the capital and other tools they need to sustain and grow their business." The delivery company also has a two-year, 2 million delivery goal with United Way in 2021 "to respond to the enormous need in vulnerable and food-insecure communities."
Uber Eats launched a free "daily pay" option for restaurants in Restaurant Manager that will be available at no cost through Dec. 31, so businesses no longer need to wait until the end of the week to see delivery revenue. Uber Eats also waived all onboarding fees and pickup order fees through 2020, and reduced fees on orders delivered by restaurants' own employees.
Uber Eats launched an in-app feature that allows diners to donate directly to restaurants, and Uber Eats matched those funds with donations to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. So far, more than $20 million has been contributed directly to restaurants, Uber Eats told Restaurant Dive in an email.
Uber Eats launched an app feature that allows diners in the U.S. and Canada to order from Black-owned restaurants for $0 delivery through 2020. Uber Eats app users in major cities will view a banner that says "Support Black-owned restaurants," along with a selection of nearby Black-owned restaurants.
• Uber Eats rolled out a priority delivery feature that lets diners get their food faster. Diners can now choose between Priority Delivery and No Rush delivery, which is discounted.
• Uber Eats also launched a loyalty program where restaurants can offer loyalty rewards through Uber's app and forge direct relationships with diners. Customers using the Uber rewards program, comparatively, receive rewards from Uber.
• Uber Eats added a map feature to the pickup tab on its app so diners can more easily find restaurants that are offering takeaway.
• Uber Eats has extended its 0% commission fee for pickup orders for restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and the deal is expected to run through the end of the summer.
Uber Eats committed to a $10 million investment over the next two years to support Black-owned businesses by driving demand through promotions and other merchant support. The company also expanded its supplier diversity program and plans to double its spending with Black-owned businesses and contractors.
• Uber Eats launched a pilot program that will allow partner restaurants to provide online ordering for pickup or delivery directly on their websites. Restaurants will be able to customize their colors and themes to create a branded experience that's unique to them. There will be 0% commission fees for these online orders through 2020. Uber Eats also extended its waiver of all restaurant fees for Uber eats pickups in the U.S. and Canada through 2020.
• The delivery platform also launched an Uber Eats Manager mobile app that allows restaurant managers to monitor delivery business on the go. The app tracks sales volumes, operational statistics, earnings and sales trends in real time and will alert the manager if something goes wrong in the restaurant, such as if an employee forgot to accept a delivery order. The Uber Eats Manager's Customer Engagement tool allows restaurants to respond to diner feedback, and the Customer Insights tool will allow restaurants to study diner behavior and clicks to better understand ordering patterns.
Uber Eats launched Sponsored Listings, the company's first advertising format, with $25 million in free marketing credits to qualified U.S. restaurants. Partner restaurants can create Sponsored Listings in their Uber Eats dashboards and set an audience, budget and duration. With credits, restaurants can review the reporting dashboard to observe the value of Sponsored Listings before choosing how to invest going forward.
Uber Eats launched contactless ordering for pickup and dine-in as a safety feature for U.S. restaurants and diners. Restaurants pay a 0% Marketplace Fee on these features.
Postmates launched new protections for delivery drivers, including higher average earnings, a new child and family care policy and a COVID Resource Portal that includes mental health and safety programs with 24/7 access to telemedicine and career resources.
Postmates launched curbside pickup for partner restaurants that allows diners and delivery drivers to collect orders without entering brick-and-mortar establishments. The Postmates app prompts diners to check in when they arrive at the store location to notify employees to come outside with their order. Postmates delivery drivers can also use this feature to alert businesses when they have arrived.
Postmates launched its Black-Owned Restaurants collection, which diners can find by searching "Black-owned" in the Postmates app and order from for free delivery.
Postmates partnered with Ordrslip, a company that allows restaurants to operate custom mobile apps, so operators can create custom-looking white label mobile ordering applications. Postmates will provide a delivery service option after the order is placed.
To license Ordrslip, restaurants are charged a flat fee of $100 monthly, or an annual subscription of $1,100, per location. The price doesn’t change based on restaurant profits or the number of orders placed.
Grubhub launched a technology suite called Ultimate with an emphasis on takeout, providing a POS system with direct integration to Grubhub's website and app, diner displays with real-time order predictions across all channels, a kitchen display system and in-store self-ordering kiosks. As of Jan. 23, Ultimate was available in 100 restaurants as part of a pilot program in New York City and Chicago. Grubhub is extending this feature to small-medium restaurants by offering a free custom window sign that includes a QR code for contactless pickup with zero marketing fees.
Grubhub launched its Grubhub+ membership for $9.99 per month, which offers unlimited free delivery on orders of $12 or more from select restaurants and 10% cash back on dollars spent at member restaurants. As of Feb. 26, over 100,000 restaurants were already members of Grubhub+.
Grubhub announced that it spent $100 million to support restaurants, drivers and delivery customers between April and June. That sum included $85 million used to offer coupons, reduce diner fees and increase advertising. The company says the cash injections generated over $200 million in incremental sales for restaurant partners. Another $15 million went toward 250,000 PPE kits the company sent to drivers, as well as tamper-evident stickers to show customers food was not touched during transit.
Grubhub and The Greg Hill Foundation’s Restaurant Strong Fund partnered to create a $2 million Restaurant Winterization Grant program, an initiative that will provide $10,000 in grants to eligible independent restaurants, according to a press release. Applications will be accepted Monday through Nov. 21 from restaurants in Chicago, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia with five or fewer locations.
The program is supported by the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, a donor-advised fund created in March by Grubhub to support charitable organizations helping restaurants, drivers and people in need impacted by the pandemic.