What’s the Best Third-Party Food Delivery Service for Restaurants?

The third-party restaurant delivery wars are here. With more consumers turning to the convenience of ordering their meals online and via mobile apps, services that provide delivery for non-traditional takeout outlets are thriving. With online delivery revenues expected to grow to more than $24 billion by 2023, getting your restaurant into the game with one or more of the services below may help grow your takeout receipts.

The good news is that restaurants have some options when choosing a third-party delivery service for their restaurant takeout program. But which one would best fit your restaurant’s business? There is a clear hierarchy with major players like DoorDash and Grubhub dominating the market, leaving other food delivery providers to focus on specialization to make their presence felt.

We will examine not just the financial aspects of five different restaurant delivery services, but also customer satisfaction, and ease of integration to help you determine which horse to back. We break it all down as well as give our overall rating so you can best choose the right service for your restaurant’s business. Because what works for a pizza joint might not be best for up-scale dining or fast-casual.


Caviar Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

As a bit of a niche player in the restaurant industry, Caviar’s sub-3% market share reflects a company that doesn’t aim to compete with the big dogs, but rather seeks to carve out their own market.

Just like their name suggests, Caviar tends to cater to a more upscale dining experience. The company is highly selective in terms of both restaurants and couriers. Guests won’t find the greasy spoons and drive-thru fare that they will with the other services in this post. Instead, Caviar touts its partnerships with famed chefs like Jose Garces and David Chang. Simply appearing alongside some of these restaurants can raise your reputation – if you get selected.

Caviar is also in a very small service area, only currently in 11 major metropolitain areas.

As far as the service itself, Caviar is part of Square and Square for Restaurants. This means the service operates via a separate tablet which adds an extra step to the delivery process on your end. However, it also allows you to adjust prep times and 86 counts to accurately inform your diners of what to expect.

Their 25% fee is right about in the middle of the industry, but its paired with check sizes and average monthly spending that leaves the other services in the dust. The median income of a Caviar customer is $79,000 -- $8K more than Doordash and $9K more than Grubhub. This has translated into guests spending an average of $43 per order and $110/month – the highest in the industry.

User Ratings: 3/5
Fees: 3/5
Customer Spending: 5/5
Market Share: 1/5
Convenience: 3/5
Total: 15/25

Conclusion: Caviar is perfect for upper-scale restaurants in major US cities looking to serve a small, select market.


Doordash Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

Currently the market leader, DoorDash has used its Y-Model, focusing on all three segments of the delivery process (users, restaurants, dashers) to create an experience that all parties walk away from satisfied.

The company aims to partner with diners, restaurants, and its drivers to achieve an honest sense of cooperation. It certainly seems to be working. Of the services we reviewed, DoorDash has the app rating and the second highest average customer spending per month ($95). It’s no surprise then that in the last year DoorDash has seen its market share of the third-party delivery revenue grow from 15% to an astounding 27.6%, surpassing Grubhub in the process, despite only serving 245K active users.

The service’s mobile app is one of its stronger selling points. It boasts a very user-friendly interface which allows GPS tracking, status updates, and instant customer service. Their dedicated “Dashers” are also incredible assets. They’re not ferrying passengers or shopping for groceries; their sole task is to bring your customers their food. This lack of distractions truly makes a partnership with DoorDash feel like an extension of your restaurant.

As with all the other parties in this article, DoorDash does not openly disclose their fee structure, but most of their partners place their order commission around 20%, one of the smallest fees in the industry. Operators may also choose to pay steeper fees to have their establishment appear higher in searches. Between the price and the high quality of service, DoorDash is poised to keep growing strong.

User Ratings: 5/5
Fees: 5/5
Customer Spending: 4/5
Market Share: 5/5
Convenience: 4/5
Total: 23/25

Conclusion: Doordash is quickly extended its reach across the country and may be a suitable alternative for restaurants who either don’t want to partner with Grubhub or are looking to supplement their delivery services.


Grubhub Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

The eater of worlds for the world of eaters. Since 2013, Grubhub has acquired 12 other third-party delivery startups, including Eat24, Foodler, and Seamless. Their practice of buying up smaller, localized providers has helped them to capture more than half of the market in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

Their overall share, however, has dropped from 38% to 26.7% with the aggressive growth of DoorDash. Even so, Grubhub boasts 14.5 million users across 1,700 cities and 80,000 restaurants. While it’s a busy app and might be hard to get seen, it’s still the mecca of online food ordering for guests.

Where Grubhub differs from most other services is the ability to allow restaurants use their own delivery staff. This method means restaurant operators can maintain more control over their delivery operations, but still benefit from the marketing power and convenience of Grubhub’s ordering system.

Additionally, point of sale (POS) integration makes it a seamless (no pun intended) transition so that orders coming via their website or app pop into your queue no differently than your waitstaff entering it in at a POS device.

With this wider range of service levels, it’s no surprise that their range of fees reportedly spans from 15-30%.

User Ratings: 4/5
Fees: 4/5
Customer Spending: 3/5
Market Share: 4/5
Convenience: 5/5
Total: 20/25

Conclusion: Grubhub is the delivery industry emperor and should at least be considered by every restaurant looking into third-party delivery services.


Postmates Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

Postmates is a smaller player with serious staying power and lofty goals. Despite boasting only about half the number of installs of DoorDash and Grubhub, Postmates still manages to pull in over 12% of the market.

The issue is that Postmates has no intentions of simply delivering takeout food. They want to be America’s errand service: picking up people’s laundry, their groceries, even their alcohol. Unsurprisingly, this approach doesn’t work everywhere, but in Los Angeles, a city full of personal assistants, it outpaces the other services.

Though their average check size is on the lower end ($27), they make up for it in monthly spending by inspiring repeat business. Postmates customers average more than three transactions per month -- the highest such rate in the industry -- for a total of $91 of monthly spending per consumer (third highest in the industry).

For a company that doesn’t solely dedicate itself to the restaurants it partners with, however, their 30% commission is a steep price to pay.

User Ratings: 4/5
Fees: 2/5
Customer Spending: 3/5
Market Share: 2/5
Convenience: 1/5
Total: 12/25

Conclusion: Postmates is great if you want to build a loyal following and are in their high-service areas.


UberEATS Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

UberEats remains a bit of a fish (and chips) out of water. Many diners would balk at the thought of having a taxi driver deliver their food, yet essentially that’s the premise of UberEats.

Their drivers are employees of a livery service, not the food service industry. Though the distinction may seem slight, it is important. Unlike other third-party delivery services, its couriers are not trained to handle mishaps with food, often leaving customer service issues in inadequate hands.

The question of exclusivity also comes into play. Few diners would willingly choose to have their orders taking trips with other passengers, but this is a reality with UberEats.

Like DoorDash, UberEats partners with several national chains which may not be your natural competitors. When placed in proximity in their app, however, suddenly you’re not just fighting for sales with the other sit-down restaurants in your neighborhood, but also Subway and McDonald’s.

Drawbacks aside, the service still pulls in more than 25% of the market share despite the smallest average check size ($45) and monthly customer spending ($78). Inversely, however, its reported 30-40% commission may leave many restaurants coughing up more of a smaller pie.

Ratings: 3/5
Fees: 1/5
Customer Spending: 1/5
Market Share: 3/5
Convenience: 2/5
Total: 10/25

Conclusion: UberEats has a lot more drawbacks than positives going for them at this time. Use them cautiously.

DIY Restaurant Delivery Program

Do It Yourself Restaurant Delivery Service Ratings

For restaurants with an established delivery service, using these companies may feel like using a sledgehammer to put in a thumbtack. Why pay up to 40% for someone else to deliver food when you already have your own employees to do it?

While the marketing network offered by third parties would be nearly cost-prohibitive to duplicate, the ease of online ordering is not. Consider outsourcing the development of a website and mobile app to harness the convenience which makes those services so appealing in the first place. You can keep more of your money in your pocket while still moving forward with the trend.

Of course, there are some costs associated with the DIY approach that you don’t have to worry about with outsourcing. When your drivers work for you, their wages and benefits are your responsibility. Additionally, you may be on the hook for fuel reimbursements, insurance premiums, and other vehicle maintenance. Many operators can offset these expenses through the use of a flat fee per delivery that goes directly to the restaurant. Though nobody likes being nickel and dimed to death with fees, any fee you charge will likely be in line or even lower than those charged by third-party services.   

Ratings: 0/5 
Fees: 5/5
Customer Spending: 3/5
Market Share: 0/5 
Convenience: 5/5 
Total: 13/25* (13/15 adjusted)

*Conclusion: Don’t let the lack of market share and customer ratings scare you off from going it alone. You’re not trying to compete with billion dollar corporations. If you find that the control afforded to you by running your own delivery is worth the hassle, then you can benefit from keeping more of your revenue.