DoorDash Tests In-App Reservations

Is the age of instant delivery starting to fall apart? What is the future of autonomous vehicles? Will you be able to make reservations at your favorite restaurants within the DoorDash app? All this in today’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar. 

The Fantasy of Instant Delivery Is Imploding (Bloomberg)

Summary: Gopuff’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse in downtown Philadelphia sits right at the intersection of hedonism and sloth. Lining the shelves are Seagram’s party packs, condoms, Plan B contraceptives, three flavors of Mountain Dew, Tums, Nicorette lozenges, and something called Panic Panties (“… for life on the go”). Inside a walk-in cooler, which co-Chief Executive Officer Rafael Ilishayev calls “our pride and joy,” there’s just about every kind of beer and hard seltzer imaginable. Pabst Blue Ribbon, cranberry White Claw, Tired Hands IPA: just the kind of indulgences college students once had to labor from their dorm room to retrieve and can now summon like magic to their doorsteps with Gopuff’s app, which promises to deliver in 30 minutes.

It’s also the kind of instant gratification business that for a brief moment in recent years seemed to have the potential to change e-commerce forever. “We’d build a plan and they’d [investors would] say you’re not spending enough,” Ilishayev says. “It’s easy to get caught up when you’re having a lot of things go right.”

Gopuff is part of a class of startups that soared during the pandemic, trying to solve a logistics and math puzzle that’s dogged Silicon Valley for decades: Can an e-commerce company whisk products to your house in under an hour? And more important: Can it actually make money doing so?…

My Take: It sounded like a good plan on paper, but with the way most US cities are laid out, it would be a logistical nightmare to promise instant or fast delivery. While the average consumer wants things immediately, they aren’t even willing to pay a premium to make it happen. They want as cheap and as fast as possible, making this business plan shaky from the start.

Good luck to these kinds of companies moving forward. But I don’t see continued success outside of the parameters of a pandemic.

Instacart Is Said to Pull Plans to Go Public This Year (NY Times)

Summary: Instacart, the food delivery company, is pulling its plans to go public in 2022, in the latest sign of turmoil in the public markets, three people with knowledge of the situation said.

The company had been one of the few tech firms seeking to go public this year, as investors all but shut their doors to putting their cash in initial public offerings of unprofitable entities. Wall Street, spooked by rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and fears of a recession, has preferred putting cash into safer bets.

Instacart filed papers this year for a so-called confidential filing, which meant it did not yet have to disclose certain data about its business. The filing did not require Instacart to follow through with a public offering, but it was considered a big step toward one. The company had planned to make its financial information public this week, starting the official process, said two of the people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified because the discussions are confidential. But amid market jitters, the plans were halted, they said.

Instacart is not withdrawing its filing and is awaiting more favorable market conditions to go public, one person said. Yet the window for going public this year is quickly shutting. Bankers prefer not to take companies public over the holidays, and the company is running out of time….

My Take: It makes sense. It’s not a great market to jump into. And with Instacart cutting their valuation a couple of times already leading up to their original IPO date, it wasn’t making sense to keep the course.

It sounds like they still fully intend to go public soon, but it’s likely not going to happen in 2022. Once they start seeing the market bouncing back, I’m sure they’ll kick their plans into gear again.

I figured this would happen with how the market was faring months ago when they first announced their plans. Just have to wait it out.

DoorDash is testing in-app reservations (Restaurant Dive)

Summary: DoorDash is piloting in-app reservations, the platform confirmed to Restaurant Dive in an email on Tuesday. This news was first reported by Expedite, a restaurant tech newsletter published by Kristen Hawley.

The “Reservations” button appears in the app for New York and Chicago consumers, but a Restaurant Dive reporter was also able to book a restaurant reservation through the app in Los Angeles.

The reservation pilot appears to be powered by restaurant reservation platform SevenRooms. As of press time, DoorDash has not responded to a request for comment on the geographic range of the pilot. SevenRooms declined to share details on its test markets….

My Take: This is pretty neat. I like it. There are times when I’m debating between ordering in or going out. If I can make that decision within the DoorDash app, all the more power to them.

Plus, picture this…your favorite restaurant is booked solid for the night. But you’ve been craving their chicken parmesan. Now you can simply decide to order it for delivery since going there was ruled out.

It’s a great business decision for both the restaurant and DoorDash from the angles I’m seeing it from.

Also in the news…

Argo AI, driverless startup backed by Ford and VW, is shutting down (The Verge)

Thoughts: I think many companies are starting to realize how expensive autonomous vehicles are, and how much work is left to get them ready for public distribution.

Developer of Decentralized Ride-Sharing App Teleport Raises $9M in Bid to Compete With Uber, Lyft (Yahoo! Finance

Thoughts: Is Decentralized Engineering Corporation ready to compete with Uber and Lyft? Keep an eye out for Teleport in the near future. Maybe the tides will turn.

What do you think? Do you think online reservations and ordering in one spot is a good idea?

-Paula @ RSG