- Papa John's is now offering nationwide delivery through DoorDash, the company announced Wednesday.
- To celebrate the partnership, DoorDash is offering free delivery on all Papa John's orders over $10 over St. Patrick's Day weekend, March 15-17, at participating stores.
- "This partnership extends our continued commitment to meet customers wherever they are and provide simple, easy ordering for guests in addition to our own world-class Papa John's mobile app," Anne Fischer, SVP of customer experience, said in a company release. "More than 60% of Papa John’s transactions occur online. With this in mind, we are dedicated to exceeding our customers' expectations when it comes to ordering and delivery convenience."
While the scale of this tie-up isn't a surprise — Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie said the pizza chain would expand its partnership with the delivery platform in an earnings call last month — it could signal a sea change in the delivery space.
Pizza restaurants have long been synonymous with delivery, and much of the mobile tech innovation in the segment has come from powerhouse Domino's, Pizza Hut and even Papa John's itself. Given this history, Papa John's move may appear counterproductive. But experimenting with an aggregator makes some sense for the chain, given its sales slump and turbulent relationship with once-loyal customers.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Ritchie said that aggregators like Uber Eats “have been growing their overall share of the restaurant industry over the last 12 months. We don't want to lose our customers." He also said that the goal of the partnership is to eventually convert customers gained through DoorDash to Papa John's platform.
But Papa John's isn't the only pizza brand courting third-party platforms.
In February, Pizza Hut announced it would pilot a delivery program with Grubhub, making it the first major pizza company to team with a third-party platform, according to Skift Table. The chain will still use its own delivery fleet to transport its pies, however, with Grubhub simply processing its orders. Papa John's, on the other hand, will use Dashers to pick up and deliver all orders placed through DoorDash, according to a spokesperson. Delivery pressure is certainly at an all-time high, with QSR heavyweights like McDonald's and Chipotle investing heavily in off-premise technology and Uber Eats giving independents a leg up with its virtual kitchens business in the U.K.
The pizza space is divided, however, as to how best overcome this new competition. Domino's has pledged to never partner with a third-party for delivery. The sentiment is expected, given the company's dominance in pizza delivery. Domino's CEO Rich Allison also said that keeping delivery in-house helps it maintain cost and quality — one of the biggest complaints of third-party naysayers. It's an open question which strategy will pay off in the long run for pizza brands, but as aggregators like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats continue to gain ground, it's clear that chains will need to bolster their offerings to hold their lead.