Food Delivery Apps - Consumer Journey

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Food Delivery Apps - Consumer Journey (1)

Twenty-four percent of smartphone owners use food delivery apps regularly. In comparison, 82% of smartphone users use social media apps. This low number of users choose their favorite food delivery app based on a number of factors. Consumers will choose a food delivery app based on the location of the customer, the restaurant that they have in mind, the fees they will have to pay, any available discounts, technological features, and recommendations from friends and family.

Location of the Customer

Customers Have a Restaurant in Mind

Low or Lack of Fees

Available Discounts

  • Eighteen percent of food delivery app users prefer apps with better discounts.

Better Features

  • Some customers will prefer features such as seeing the delivery worker and the estimated time of delivery, such as what Postmates provides. Eighteen percent prefer those with better technological features.
  • To increase customer loyalty, apps are starting to launch membership programs that offer rewards and other perks for using the app.
  • Apps like Postmates and DoorDash have launched their membership programs and apps like UberEats have free rewards programs where customers can gain points and use them to get rides in the ride-sharing section of the Uber app.
  • This kind of model appeals to younger consumers, which make up a large percentage of food delivery app users. Ninety percent of millennial parents order takeout at least once a week.

Friends and Family Use the App

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Food Delivery Apps - Consumer Journey (2)

Five factors that result in consumers coming back to a particular food delivery app include the availability of reward programs, level of convenience on offer, in-app technological features, the availability of a range of restaurant options, and the ease of use of a particular app. These factors are some of the most important considerations that drive customer loyalty to a particular food delivery app. A detailed overview of the research findings follows below.

Reward Programs

Level of Convenience

Technological Features

Range of Restaurant Options

Ease of Use

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Food Delivery Apps - Consumer Journey (3)

Food delivery app users are becoming less loyal to specific apps and more likely to switch apps often based on a variety of factors. Factors that contribute to consumers changing apps include restaurant availability, app features/ease of use, pricing and discounts, wait times and the availability of subscriptions.

Decreasing Loyalty

  • Food delivery app customers are becoming more likely to use multiple apps and are becoming less loyal to a single app.
  • In 2017, market leader Grubhub enjoyed an 83% loyalty rate, meaning only 17% of its users also used other food delivery apps. Today, just 61% of Grubhub customers are loyal to the app and this group is decreasing in size.
  • As a result, customers are becoming more likely to switch apps regularly depending on their wants and needs for an individual delivery order.

Restaraunt Availability

  • Restaraunt availability is one of the main reasons customers choose their preferred food delivery app. In other words, consumers prefer to use apps that have more restaurant options that they like.
  • One survey revealed that 54% of food delivery app consumers start with a specific restaurant in mind while 46% will browse options before choosing a restaurant.
  • Food delivery apps seek to improve restaurant availability in a variety of ways to attract more customers. For example, DoorDash develops exclusive partnerships with restaurant chains to offer delivery of their food on the app while Postmates doesn't limit options to those which have signed up for service with the app, sending a delivery person in to order in the customer's place at any restaurant they choose.

App Features and Ease of Use

  • Ease of use is an important factor in whether customers stick with a specific food delivery app. In a survey of customers who abandoned online food delivery orders, 28% reported they did so due to the app or site not working properly and 20% said it was because their questions about the restaurant or menu weren't answered by the app or website.
  • In another study, 18% of respondents said they preferred apps with better technological features. These stats imply that customers may choose to change apps based the features and because the previous app was difficult to use, didn't function well or lacked important information.

Price and Discounts

  • Food delivery app users often price shop different apps to get the best deal on food delivery. Therefore, customers are likely to switch apps in order to get delivery for a lower cost.
  • A survey of 2,000 consumers found that 85% of respondents would not pay more than a $5 food delivery fee.
  • Another survey, which included tips in the cost of food delivery, found that 37% of respondents were willing to spend between $6 to $10 on fees and tips combined and 35% expect to spend no more than $5 on these combined costs.
  • Discounts are also a factor in users choosing a specific app with 18% of survey respondents saying they prefer apps that offer discounts.

Wait Times

  • Estimated wait times are another factor that may encourage customers to switch from one food delivery app to another. The average time customers are willing to wait for food delivery is 40 minutes.
  • When asked about parts of the process that they were dissatisfied with, 17% of customers identified food not being fresh or warm and 16% identified food being delivered late. This implies that long wait times negatively impact food delivery satisfaction and may contribute to customers changing apps.


  • The availability of subscriptions may motivate users to change apps.
  • Both Postmates and DoorDash offer users unlimited delivery for a flat monthly fee in an effort to attract customers to their platforms. Subscribers make up 16% of Postmates users and 10% of DoorDash users, indicating that a segment of users are attracted to this structure.
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Food Delivery Apps - Consumer Journey (4)

Five insights behind what drives consumers into using food delivery apps over visiting physical restaurants are convenience, food variety, the enabling technology, availability of high quality food, and the aggressive marketing and advertising conducted by companies in the online food delivery service industry. These factors are credited with the rise and constant growth of the online food delivery service market in the United States. A detailed overview of the research findings follows below.


Food Variety

The Enabling Technology

High Quality Food

Marketing and Advertising

  • The amount of money spent on marketing and advertising by the online food delivery service industry is another factor that drives consumers into using food delivery apps over visiting physical restaurants.
  • Most traditional restaurants do not spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising while companies such as Grubhub and Just Eat have marketing budgets that are in the millions of dollars. These companies use their advertising budgets to advertise widely and quickly build recognition for their brands.
  • For example, in 2016, Grubhub spent $110.32 million on sales and marketing while in 2017, the company spent $150.73 million on sales and marketing. Grubhub's sales and marketing expenditure jumped to $214.29 million in 2018.
  • Grubhub spends its sales and marketing budget on search engine marketing, television, online display, media and other marketing programs.
  • By investing heavily on marketing and advertising, companies that offer food delivery apps in the United States were able to lure in consumers from the traditional restaurants into online food delivery.