Throughout 2021, food delivery services have been redefining their businesses to expand their use cases, aiming to meet consumers’ instant needs across restaurant and retail categories. Now, DoorDash is taking a sharp turn away from on-demand fulfillment, launching Nationwide Shipping. The service sends food and retail goods from local shops and restaurants to consumers anywhere in the country to arrive several days later or at a set time in the future.
With this new launch comes more verbal gymnastics to create a through-line between the on-demand restaurant delivery for which DoorDash is known and these new initiatives, using increasingly vague language to describe what the company aims to do.
“Throughout the past year, DoorDash has expanded on the vision to deliver the best of every local neighborhood,” the company said in a blog post. “Now, we are taking it one step further and expanding what it means to get the best of any neighborhood.”
DoorDash is far from the first company to offer a way to ship items from local restaurants to other parts of the country. Goldbelly, for one, has been doing it since 2013. The company currently ships more than 10,000 foods from 850 restaurant partners, as of May, and in 2020 the company saw its business grow 300%. Additionally, in the spring, Goldbelly announced a $100 million Series C fundraise.
In a certain light, the existence of this competition could be good news for DoorDash. Goldbelly’s success offers proof of the somewhat dubious concept: that there is significant demand for shipping, say, a roast beef sandwich (one of the restaurants already available through the service is New York City’s Katz’s Delicatessen) to arrive frozen, days after it was made. Additionally, DoorDash has the mass name recognition that companies that have been in the space for longer lack.
Still, now is a surprising time for the company to launch this service, with truck driver shortages and supply chain constraints plaguing businesses across industries that rely heavily on shipping. DoorDash did not disclose in the release who its shipping partner(s) are, nor did it address the potential delays resulting from these worldwide challenges. In fact, noting these difficulties, retailers have been attempting to shift their sales away from delivery towards pickup channels. Target and Amazon, for instance, have both been adding additional on-site pickup options.
A June letter from the country’s largest retail trade group said that 97 percent of its members had been impacted by port congestion and shipping delays, and seven in 10 retailers were experiencing two- to three-week delays in their normal supply chains. These challenges are persisting, making now an odd time for DoorDash to launch this service, the very existence of which depends on a functioning supply chain.
Typically, when one food delivery service has announced a major initiative such as this, others are soon to follow. For instance, in 2020, DoorDash announced a partnership with Walgreens to launch on-demand delivery, and then, in less than a year, Instacart and Uber Eats announced similar partnerships with the pharmacy. As such, it likely will not be long before other third-party aggregators launch their own shipping businesses and/or acquire existing players in the space such as Goldbelly.