Uber For Food: Smartphone Apps Deliver To Your Door
Shoppers can order just about anything on their smartphones – and now, just about anyone can deliver it. Amazon recently launched a service in Seattle called Amazon Flex, which out-sources deliveries to anyone with a car and an Android phone. An Austin company launched its own app in 2011 called Favor.
The app is similar to Lyft or Uber. Customers download the app to place orders on a smartphone. Meals are a fairly common request, especially around lunch and dinner.
Haley Swanberg works for Favor. She usually works a three-hour evening shift in downtown Dallas. She started working for the company in June.
"I'm still pretty new to it, but I feel like I've been doing it forever," she said. "I think it's really, really fun and it's really easy money."
On average, she earns about $15 an hour. Her biggest pay for a shift was a whopping $115 - from several large food orders.
"I had to go buy like somebody's booster seat at Target one day," Swanberg said. "One time, I had to pick up somebody's dog and like take it to the vet. Nothing too crazy yet though."
Harry Campbell used to be an aerospace engineer. Now, he's a full-time blogger at TheRideShareGuy.com. It's a how-to for anyone looking to get into this kind of business. The website offers tips and tricks on becoming a driver with these new startups.
Campbell has worked for Postmates before and is currently training for DoorDash.
"There are a ton of people out there doing it and there are a ton of people enjoying it," he said.
Customers enjoy the experience too.
SMU student Mary Charles Byers likes the convenience and uses Favor for food delivery almost every week.
"If there is any reason you can't get to a place, it's so easy to use," she said. "They just come to your door, drop it off, you pay through your app and it's really simple."
Kinks in the System
It's the simplicity that customers pay for. Favor adds a 5 percent service charge and a $5 delivery fee to every order. That's not including a tip for the driver.
Postmates adds a $5 delivery fee and a 9 percent service charge. Tips are optional with this service.
With either app, a $6 combo from Taco Bell will cost customers around another $6 in fees.
SMU student Maria Santiago tried Postmates once and doesn't plan on using it again.
"The delivery charge is a lot. It's the same price that you're paying for the actual food," she said. "If you think about it, I'd just rather do it myself. Just go."
Campbell says there are also kinks to work out for drivers. He's not happy with the Postmates pay model.
"You're only paid from where you pick up the food to the drop off point," he said. "So all of that in-between time while you're waiting for the food, while you're ordering, a lot can go wrong during that time and you're not paid for any of it."
For all the convenience these delivery apps offer, the road to success can still be a little bumpy.