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Image Credit: DoorDash

DoorDash: Racing to win the deliveries war

Since entering the market in 2019, DoorDash has become Australia’s second-highest rated delivery service. And it’s not just meals: the company’s “Dashers” are also delivering groceries, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, haircare and pet products.

Dynamic Business sat down with Rebecca Burrows, DoorDash’s Australian General Manager, to learn more about the platform’s strategy for the Australian market, how it differentiates itself from competitors and more. 

Despite your number one position in the USA, Australia is a very different market. Why was Australia chosen as your first country outside North America, and how does your local growth strategy differ from the USA?

“We’ve just celebrated our second birthday in the Australian market. In those two years, we’ve had a rapid growth strategy that’s seen us add over 26,000 merchants to the platform and reach 80 per cent of Australia’s population across 48 cities and towns.

“The interesting thing about the Australian market is that in the US, instant delivery is far more advanced in that most companies offer it, whether it’s food or furniture. In Australia, the concept of on-demand delivery in Australia is still relatively nascent. 

“Our strategy reflects that; there’s so much opportunity here for us to be a driving force in the market shift to on-demand delivery, so our focus has been on partnerships and cementing ourselves in the retail delivery space. Recently, we’ve partnered with multi-carrier shipping platform Shippit to allow their customers (including Big W, Target, and Cotton On) the option of providing their consumers with an instant delivery option at check out.  The response to this has been fantastic so far – and we are just getting started!”

I imagine that COVID-19 somewhat upended your original business plan. What challenges and opportunities did the pandemic present, and how did DoorDash respond to them?

“The pandemic is driving one of the biggest shifts in consumer purchasing behaviour we’ve experienced in a long time, as we all had to shift to purchasing online. Millions of people who had never previously considered getting their groceries delivered or ordering their haircare products online suddenly found they had no other option, which saw businesses have to adapt to rapid growth in their e-commerce offerings. With that came added expectations on deliveries, which presented an opportunity for DoorDash to extend its reach beyond food delivery and expand into multiple verticals such as grocery, retail, alcohol, pet care and more.  This has always been part of our vision for DoorDash, to empower local merchants, but it certainly fast-tracked our movement on this in the market and accelerated adoption with merchants here in Australia. 

“We have also solidified our position as the leading last-mile delivery service in Australia – we are supporting retailers and restaurants by allowing them to leverage our existing driver network and technology to offer customer deliveries – without having to worry about the added cost and stress of setting up their own infrastructure for deliveries. It has been a great opportunity for us to help businesses to deliver quickly to consumers whilst continuing to manage their own channels to market and customer relationships.  We are seeing more and more businesses ask for this service, as consumers demand faster deliveries and greater tracking and visibility of their orders.  Examples of this are our recently announced partnership with Chemist Warehouse and the fast grocery deliveries we are delivering for IGA Online as well as across food, pharmaceuticals and liquor.”

DoorDash: Racing to win the deliveries war
Image Credit: DoorDash

You are in an industry dominated by few big players. How do you view your competitors? What are your strengths compared to theirs, and how is this reflected in your marketing?

“While there are certainly a few key competitors in the food delivery space, we see ourselves as unique in our market position – we’re not just a food delivery app, we’re an on-demand delivery logistics platform.

“This has been evident in our recent marketing around our new subscription offering, DashPass, where members pay a monthly fee of $12.99 to receive unlimited free deliveries on all orders above $20. Through our ads and campaign assets, all the focus is on how the benefit of DashPass really comes into play when you look beyond using our platform for just food delivery – making dinner and forgot that one ingredient? Get it delivered free. Have a baby, and you’re on the last nappy? Get it delivered. Once consumers start to realise they can have everything delivered to their door, from groceries to pet food, they’ll see that DoorDash offers a unique value add that isn’t replicated through any competitor.

“I have huge respect for our competitors, each with their own strengths.  I also believe healthy competition is good for everyone – it makes great products for consumers and great conditions for merchants and Dashers.  I have also enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate on the areas that we don’t need to compete with – as an example, I don’t see safety as something that should ever be a competitive advantage, and so I keenly collaborate across the industry to make improvements in this area.”

In a sense, you have three sets of customers – your delivery team, restaurant owners/retailers and the people who place an order. How do you balance these three groups?

“We have dedicated teams that look after each of these groups. We’re just as committed to protecting and supporting our delivery team as we are to our merchants, and of course, the end consumer that uses our app.”

The gig economy has been tested over the last 18 months.  With delivery companies flirting with giving drivers employee status, do you think it is likely that your relationship with drivers will undergo fundamental changes?

“I think given how rapidly the gig economy and the delivery sector has had to adjust since the start of the pandemic, there are definitely further conversations to be had about what the future of this industry looks like and how we can continue to improve on the existing model.  We have regular consultative forums with Dashers so that we hear directly from them and can make changes as needed to continue to meet their needs.’

What are your plans for the next two years?

“Looking back at how much we’ve accomplished in the two years since we landed in the Australian market, it’s exciting to think about what the next two holds!  We’re focused on expanding the number of partners we can integrate with to provide fundamental, lasting change to Australia’s e-commerce sector and play a pivotal role in bringing instant delivery to the masses across more verticals than ever before.  Imagine a world where everything you need [to be] delivered can be at your door in under 40 minutes – that future is not as far away as you may think!”

Read more: How businesses can keep up with delivery demand

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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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