DoorDash continues to expand beyond its restaurant roots with the announcement today that it has partnered with a number of retailers to offer on-demand grocery delivery through the DoorDash app for the first time.
From a DoorDash blog post announcing the new service:
Customers in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego and the Central Coast can order from Smart & Final. Meijer and Fresh Thyme are available to customers in Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit and Indianapolis. In the coming weeks, we will be adding selection across the country with grocers such as Hy-Vee, Gristedes / D’agostino and more — providing more than 75 million Americans access to a grocery store on DoorDash.
The service will offer more than 10,000 grocery items available for on-demand delivery in less than one hour. In addition to getting a week’s worth of groceries, customers can also get more immediate meals like heat-and-serve or ready-to-eat meals from participating grocers.
There’s a big difference between getting a single burrito delivered to your door in an hour and getting a week’s worth of groceries, though. It can take the average person more than an hour to complete a grocery trip, so how will DoorDash be able to pick out all that produce and cereal and milk and whatever and whisk it off to a customer for a speedy delivery? According to TechCrunch “‘Embedded shoppers’ hired from a staffing agency handle the shopping in each store, and the groceries are then delivered by DoorDash’s Dashers.” (Sidenote: Between DoorDash and Instacart, it feels like grocery stores will soon only be filled with human avatars doing the shopping for other people at home.)
This isn’t DoorDash’s first foray into the world of grocery delivery. Through the company’s Drive white label service, it has fulfilled grocery orders for Walmart, Hy-Vee and more.
Honestly, DoorDash has been working up to this all year. The company launched convenience store deliveries in March, partnered with Walgreens for drug store deliveries in July, and then launched its own brand of ghost convenience stores earlier this month. So adding full-on groceries stores is a logical next step.
It makes even more sense when you consider that the restaurant industry, DoorDash’s meat-and-potatoes business, is being devastated by the global pandemic. Yes, delivery could be called a lifeline for restaurants, but the high commissions that DoorDash and Uber Eats (which is also getting into the grocery game) charge restaurants can negate any assistance its delivery provides. But the bigger issue, of course, is that an alarming number of restaurants are closing down permanently, so DoorDash must find new markets.
Will DoorDash be able to migrate its massive user base into the new grocery vertical? There will need to be some education, as people currently associate DoorDash with restaurants and Instacart with groceries. But as we continue to hunker down because of this pandemic, new habits are quickly becoming the new normal, and no one will care who brings them their groceries as long as there is a delivery window available.