The American consumer has always appreciated convenience — perhaps now more than ever. After all, statistics show the United States market for food delivery at $28.4B in revenue in 2021, almost a 30% increase in two years.

The year 2020 — with all of its turmoil and disruption from the COVID-19 outbreak — proved to be a major tipping point in online food delivery. As restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms or limit the number of customers allowed inside, consumers everywhere turned to food delivery apps and services. 

Consumer desire for choice, flexibility, and convenience was already strong, boosting the usage of food delivery apps everywhere. But the COVID-19 outbreak took things to a new level, with a recent survey indicating that more than 51% of consumers considered online delivery their lifeline for meals.

While restaurant dining rooms are filling up again and business is booming, it doesn’t look like food delivery services are going anywhere anytime soon. There are a number of reasons for this permanent shift in consumer behavior towards choice, flexibility, and convenience — and restaurants can benefit from digging into some of the underlying factors. 

In this post, we’ll share some of the key reasons why managers and owners are incorporating food delivery into their day-to-day operations — and why it makes good business sense to find the right food delivery partner.

Food delivery boosts incremental sales

Even before daily life was turned upside down, the demand for food delivery had seen a significant increase in the past decade or so. People across all demographics, from Gen Z and millennials to Baby Boomers and more, have grown accustomed to the ease and convenience of ordering from their smartphones and having the meal of their choice quickly delivered to their door. 

For people with specific nutritional or dietary requirements (including those who may be easily tempted by a meal out at a restaurant), a delivery service can help them stick to their goals — whether that means staying gluten-free or simply ordering smaller portions and healthier dishes.

Most importantly for restaurants, the additional stream of revenue from food delivery apps and services can be significant. Bethan Johnson, DoorDash partner and co-owner of PizzaCo in Kokomo, Indiana, says, “We are seeing incredible sales and growth through the app, and even Dashers are coming back to order their dinner after they complete a delivery.”

Our food service app data points to the widespread use of third-party food delivery services. If restaurants want new opportunities for growth, they need to incorporate a food service platform into their operations so that they can enjoy the advantages of increased revenue. In fact, analysts from Morgan Stanley predict that food delivery could eventually reach 40% of total restaurant sales. With their famously slim margins, it’s key for restaurants to find ways to boost revenue however they can, including delivery sales.

Food delivery apps increase online presence

When evaluating a food delivery app for your restaurant, don’t forget to factor in the built-in marketing tools and broad online reach they can provide. Many small to medium-sized businesses lack expertise in marketing strategy and don’t have access to a large marketing budget, making it unlikely — both financially and logistically — for them to gain significant online exposure on their own. 

Especially as food delivery services like DoorDash expand to include groceries, alcohol, flowers, and other conveniences, the potential for bringing in new customers only continues to grow. 90% of customers search online to find restaurants they want to order from — and reaching this captive audience should be a part of every restaurant owner’s strategy. In 2021, DoorDash reaches 85% of consumers in the U.S., 80% in Australia, and 75% in Canada. 

Presence on a food delivery app is an excellent strategy for reaching customers who wouldn’t normally dine in your restaurant. Our recent research indicates that 3 out of 4 restaurants say that DoorDash has allowed them to reach new customers. Cory Hruska, c-o-owner of Hruska’s Kolaches, says, “The biggest thing with DoorDash is you reach a totally different consumer than our walk-ins. We were able to penetrate a whole new market segment with DoorDash.”

Food delivery services offer convenience

Ordering food delivery saves consumers the time and effort required to either go out and find a meal or to prepare one, wherever they may be. Whether they are stuck at home or stuck at the office, people need access to delicious, nourishing meals that are conveniently delivered. 

A third-party food delivery app like DoorDash allows restaurant managers and staff to focus on what they do best: make great food. Behind the scenes, the app provides delivery logistics. Customers who order food delivery can make the most of their time, enjoying a tasty meal while not having to go to the effort to prepare it. Delivery apps and services can also offer consumers the convenience of picking up items beyond meals, such as flowers, or a bottle of wine.

Food delivery services create efficiency for restaurants

One of the additional benefits of partnering with third-party food delivery services is that it instantly streamlines online orders for optimal workflow in the kitchen. Compared to the traditional way of taking orders, which involves one of your staff taking phone calls and writing orders down on a piece of paper, online ordering through smart devices happens instantly. 

The DoorDash platform is specially designed for maximum efficiency, which means that all the logistics of online ordering are taken care of through our platform, from placing an order and sending it to the kitchen to notifying Dashers to pick it up and deliver it to the customer’s home or office. The entire process blends seamlessly into existing workflows, especially with access to POS integrations to reduce hardware clutter.

Food delivery apps offer powerful analytics

Customer understanding is key to every business, and restaurants are no exception. Whether it’s figuring out the right time of year to change your seasonal menus or knowing how late to keep the bar open, you have to pay close attention to your customers: their behavior and their preferences, what they like and don’t like.

While restaurants have first-hand experience hearing from their customers, one often overlooked benefit of food delivery apps is all of the valuable data they gather: detailed analytics on menu performance, ratings, operations, and customer experience. DoorDash, for example, offers a convenient dashboard where you can easily track trends and performance information, like your most popular menu items, repeat customers, and more. You can view recent ratings and even respond directly to customer feedback. Everything is easy to visualize and quantify.

The right food delivery partner can be a game-changer for your restaurant. Without spending extra time and workforce on the old-fashioned system of taking orders, your staff can focus more on creating delicious food that customers will crave again and again. Beyond providing tasty and memorable meals, if your restaurant builds a reputation with a prompt delivery service, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. 

Our restaurant partners have a good deal of flexibility when choosing the right food delivery service. DoorDash offers a range of affordable services depending on current needs and existing restaurant staffing capabilities.

If you are looking for a complete out-of-the-box solution the DoorDash App is probably your best choice. However, if you’d like to offer online ordering and delivery from your own website, consider Storefront, a commission-free online ordering system for pickup and delivery. If you have your own drivers but want to fulfill DoorDash orders, you can use Self-Delivery. And if you’re a restaurant with an existing ordering system looking for Dashers on-demand, consider Drive. Learn more in the DoorDash Product Guide for Merchants.