TechCrunch reports that "DoorDash announced today that it’s introducing 'ultra-fast' deliveries in 10-15 minutes beginning with a single DashMart location in New York City. To start, ultra-fast deliveries will be offered from a new location in Chelsea, with more locations and partners coming over the next few months in New York and elsewhere … To ensure the 15-minute delivery time, these ultra-fast deliveries are limited to a smaller radius from the DashMart location, which reduces the courier’s commute and ensures they’ll be traveling familiar routes. Their e-bikes will be capped at speeds of 20 mph, DoorDash says.
In addition, the story says, DoorDash is "beginning to test a new model of employment which relies on full-time employees, not gig workers, to handle these new deliveries." TechCrunch writes that "DashCorps, a newly created DoorDash company, will employ courier employees who will work regular schedules and report to a manager. The employees will be paid an hourly wage starting at $15 per hour plus tips and will be offered other full-time benefits like medical, dental and vision insurance, Employee Assistance Programs, Flexible Spending Accounts and commuter benefits, among other things."
The New York Post story notes that "the Chelsea Dashmart will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. and will be wholly operated and owned by Doordash."
And, the Post writes, this move represents an effort by DoorDash to catch up with the likes of Uber Eats and Grubhub and Postmates, all of which have a larger footprint in New York City.
- KC's View:
I like the idea that DoorDash is taking greater ownership over the experience it provides, to the extent that it is offering this ultra-fast service out of its own store, not those of its retail clients, and even employing its own people to make deliveries. But in making these moves, DoorDash also seems to be positioning itself to disintermediate those very same retail clients. Maybe many of the bodegas with which it does business have little choice but to use the likes of DoorDash, but this construct does have the potential to undermine whatever customer relationships they may have. And the larger issue that retailers outside NYC need to consider is whether this is just a test run for moves that DoorDash plans to make elsewhere in the country. MNB readers won't be surprised that I think the answer to that question is yes, and that this approach will be undertaken by other businesses, such as Instacart.
One other thing. Ten-to-15 minutes continues to strike me as an often impossible, defy-the-laws-of-physics value proposition. E-bikes equipped to go 20 miles an hour won't help if the traffic is going five miles an hour, when pedestrians are jaywalking (which we all do in NYC), and in the organized chaos that often characterizes Manhattan traffic.
Here's the bigger question that I would ask retailers to consider: Is speed too often seen as the same thing as reducing friction in the shopping experience? I would argue that they are not the same, and that retailers ought to be focusing more on the latter.