Third-party delivery service DoorDash today announced a series of moves aimed at protecting workers and customers, and helping restaurants survive in the wake of coronavirus. In a letter sent to The Spoon today, CEO and cofounder Tony Xu outlined the steps his company has taken as more restaurants shutter their dining rooms and states mandate social distancing initiatives that include restaurant closures.
Xu noted that DoorDash has changed its app so that it automatically defaults to the contactless delivery option upon checkout to minimize person-to-person contact between drivers and customers.
To better protect drivers, DoorDash is also shipping 1 million sets of free hand sanitizer and gloves to its drivers and couriers, as well as consulting with restaurants and health officials to improve safety around food preparation protocols.
DoorDash is also providing financial assistance to DoorDash/Caviar drivers diagnosed with or quarantined because of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program means drivers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia can submit a claim and be eligible for up to two weeks of assistance. It’s an important offering from delivery companies at this time, as most drivers (and gig workers in general) do not get health benefits through their companies and do not qualify for paid sick leave. DoorDash’s program comes on the heels of announcements from Postmates and Grubhub, who last week set up their own financial assistance funds to assist drivers.
Relief funds have also been set up for restaurants, many of whom will suffer financially, and in some cases close permanently, because of mandated (and necessary) closures across the country.
Many major chains have already shuttered their dine-in service and switched to delivery and takeout models. That sounds straightforward enough for Starbucks or McDonald’s, but for smaller, independent restaurants, a switch to delivery is considerably more challenging, especially on the financial front. Delivery companies like DoorDash typically charge a commission fee for each transaction. Those costs — which have been and still are the subject of much controversy — can stretch as high as 30 percent per ticket, making delivery prohibitively expensive for small restaurants, whether or not there’s a pandemic unfolding.
DoorDash has addressed this issue. As of today, independent restaurants in the U.S. can sign up with DoorDash or Caviar and pay zero commission fees for 30 days, according to Xu’s letter. Currently, this option runs through the end of April.
Existing DoorDash partners will pay no commission fees on pickup orders, and Xu’s letter mentions “additional commission reductions for eligible merchants that are already on DoorDash,” though it doesn’t delve into specifics. DoorDash also said it is “earmarking up to $20 million” in merchant marketing programs for existing restaurant customers.
Finally, the service is adding 100,000 independent restaurants to its DashPass subscription program for free. While we don’t have hard numbers yet, it’s highly possible more people will sign up for subscription memberships to delivery services as more cities require folks to stay home and people look for ways to cut costs on their delivery orders. So getting added to a platform like DashPass could provide a big boost in sales to smaller restaurants.
DoorDash also said it is working with United Way Worldwide to delivery groceries to food-insecure households, senior citizens, low-income households, and persons with disabilities. For organizations that want to get involved with these efforts, DoorDash has set up an intake site where they can sign up.