Like Grubhub and Uber Eats, DoorDash Self-Delivery allows any restaurant to join the app, even if they have their own drivers.

By Mike Pomranz
December 04, 2020
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Ordering food through a delivery app is so simple, customers can forget that these services actually attempted to solve two major issues for restaurants. Placing an order online is more convenient than calling, and when Grubhub launched back in 2004, that was their primary goal: online menus. But delivery also requires drivers, and a decade ago, restaurants had to hire this staff themselves. That’s where DoorDash and Uber Eats made their mark: opening up delivery to all restaurants by providing a fleet—with Grubhub adding their own drivers by 2015.

And yet, by leveling the playing field, restaurants that had taken the time to hire their own delivery team could feel left out from a driver-focused service like DoorDash. Previously, if a restaurant owner wanted to be available on DoorDash but also use their own staff, DoorDash didn’t have an easy way to help them. But now, after a couple years of testing the waters, DoorDash has launched a streamlined system to let any restaurant joint their app and still use their own staff: DoorDash Self-Delivery.

Credit: Michael M. Santiago / Staff /Getty Images

“Some restaurants want help establishing an eCommerce store while others are looking to fulfill their online channel’s orders, and some may want help doing both,” Zach Heerwagen—DoorDash’s director & general manager, incumbents—wrote on the company blog, tipping his hat to the two ways online ordering services have changed the restaurant business. “For all of these requests and more, especially during this unprecedented time when we know that every order counts, we hope to provide restaurants with the choice and flexibility to build a permanent and sustainable online presence that works for their business.”

DoorDash estimates about 120,000 restaurants currently use in-house delivery teams, and now those places can apply to join DoorDash with a simple online form. The company explained to me that Self-Delivery still allows restaurants to take advantage of all of DoorDash’s other features, but with a lower commission structure to account for restaurants paying staff themselves. And speaking of pay, Heerwagen also specified that “100 percent of tips [are] passed through to the Merchant to distribute to its delivery fleet”—an important distinction as tips have been a hot-button issue.

Despite this week’s launch, Self-Delivery isn’t exactly a new service: Among their large partners, DoorDash said Panera has used their own staff since 2019, and Lou Malnati's helped pilot the concept earlier this year. But by officially launching Self-Delivery to the masses, DoorDash can more easily compete with their two biggest rivals—Grubhub and Uber Eats—both of which already allow restaurants to handle the delivery side of online ordering in-house.