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EXCLUSIVE: Behind DoorDash’s Journey Beyond Restaurant Delivery

VP of New Verticals Fuad Hannon talks branching out, helping all merchants succeed digitally
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
DoorDash Loblaw
Canadian grocer Loblaws utilizes DoorDash Drive for its last-mile grocery delivery efforts.

While DoorDash has been primarily known as a restaurant delivery service since its inception 10 years ago, the company has branched out in recent years to include grocery, convenience store, dollar store and other food and beverage-focused partners. Fuad Hannon, DoorDash’s VP of new verticals, spoke to Progressive Grocer at the recent Shoptalk event about the company’s journey over the past several years toward moving from a restaurant app to a local commerce app.

DoorDash has put its focus on delivering all types of goods to customers in a matter of hours, and also helping companies ranging from independent grocers to big box retailers reach those customers in a digital-first way. The company has invested heavily in this move, Hannon said, especially since the first three categories it branched out to – convenience, grocery and alcohol – are more immediate consumption in nature and tend to be highly offline. 

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“The vision has always been to bring every business on the street online and to really give them the same digital capabilities that the big enterprise merchants have,” Hannon explained. “It started in restaurants, and about three years ago we started venturing outside the restaurant category.”

Adding grocery to its delivery offerings has resulted in more necessary investments geared toward shifting the DoorDash app to non-restaurant categories, including building a substitutions engine and building out technology to schedule delivery times. Creating the Shop & Deliver platform for Dashers has also given them the opportunity to get paid more per order.

In a further effort to help businesses of all sizes reach consumers in a digital-first way, the company recently introduced DoorDash Drive, which offers last-mile delivery through a merchant’s own website via Dasher. Southeastern Grocers’ Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket banners are currently utilizing the service to offer their shoppers delivery and curbside pickup. Northeast Ohio-based independent grocer Buehler’s Fresh Foods also uses DoorDash Drive for grocery pickup and delivery.

Getting to know the local merchants, as well as larger retailers, that it works with is something DoorDash aims to get right. With more inflation-weary shoppers seeking out private-label products, for example, DoorDash is helping grocers find ways to bring those items online and tell a compelling story.

The company’s beginnings working with small- and medium-sized businesses has further allowed it to take a unique approach to working with different merchants, as well as scaling its operations.

“Everything from the sales teams that we have, to the onboarding teams that we have, to the actual product interface for a merchant to be on the DoorDash platform, has all been built with an SMB focus, then we graduated to the enterprise,” Hannon said.

Today, DoorDash has more than 100,000 non-restaurant stores across North America on its Marketplace and Drive platforms, and more than 98% of its monthly consumers in the United States have access to a non-restaurant store on the app. The company is committed to building collaborative, long-term partnerships with its partners by focusing on meeting consumers where they are, and also driving incremental revenue to its partners by leveraging existing brick-and-mortar footprints to meet local consumer demand.

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