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Domino’s launches e-bike delivery to compete with UberEats, DoorDash (techcrunch.com)
70 points by prostoalex 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

I think it makes sense for restaurants to continue building out first-party lower-cost options and continue to be listed on the middlemen services purely for that new customer discovery.

My local pizza shop just handed me a card with their own site (and app) for ordering delivery and pickup with fewer fees and lower costs than [your-favorite-vc-funded-third-party-food-delivery-service] after I used one of those services to pick up a pizza because it was severely discounted there.

I pretty much have received the same quality of service and high fees from all of these competitors and personally have no loyalty to any one of them. It's all about the cost. If your product is cheaper with one over the other, I'll just use that.

On the bike aspect, it wasn't uncommon to see bike deliveries for Favor in Austin and Caviar in Boston.

The big delivery services like Grubhub are just awful and inconsistent. You never know exactly what their relationship with the restaurant is, so you never know what to expect.

What I want is a pure aggregator. Give me a way to order online from restaurants that have their own delivery service. The middleman does nothing more but to give them by order and end there.

I want to say Foodler worked that way (I dont think Foodler had its own delivery logistic?).

Grubhub literally is an aggregator. Granted it does delivery for some restaurants now but the _vast_ majority are done by the restaurant.

Ironically this aggregator aspect is likely why OP has found quality to vary so much!

Between Yelp quietly changing numbers to Grubhub affiliated numbers to gouge restaurants [0] and "Grubhub charges restaurants between 15 to 20 percent of the order total" [0], I would not choose to use Grubhub as an Arregator.

[0] https://www.techspot.com/news/81324-yelp-quietly-swaps-resta...

IS that true? It was true 2 years ago, but today my grubhub is filled with restaurants that don't offer delivery elsewhere.

Yes it’s true. Every restaurant on GH has a contract with them. Some only choose to be on one platform. Unless something changed in the last 6 months, I worked there for a long time.

But it seems many of them do not deliver food if you just call them up, which is what I'm talking about. Not other platforms.

You're looking for something like JustEat[0], but that's really only for takeaway/fast-food.


Then how would the middleman make its money under that model?

Already thought about it, there is money to be earned with it.

Monthly subscription for the connector = automisation

Distributed system with peers hosted by restaurants!

charge a fee to the restaurant on leads?

An extension of an application of mine would be perfect to do this.

Thought about it for a long time, bit I'm have other priorities

And on the other side, some drivers work for Uber as well as Lyft, depending on who pays more. I wonder if someone's going to offer to be their dispatcher for a percentage... "Ok log-in to X, they have the best rates now!".

Is there a delivery-service aggregator yet? An "Expedia for food"?

Here in Australia, Domino’s has been using ebikes to deliver for about a year or so. On one hand, i've definitely noticed that deliveries a quicker, but the riders are often unsafe, cutting in front of cars, running lights, etc.

I mean, of course, anything near cars is unsafe. People, bikes, animals, anything. Cars kill 3 people every single day in Australia.

Have there been any accidents? In general I think delivery drivers in cars, on bikes, and other modes of transport tend to be less safe due to the real or perceived need to speed.

Yep, just look at Toy Story 1, Spiderman 1, for examples of delivery drivers and bikers being pushed to limits.

Yeah I was going to say I saw this near where I used to live at Dee Why - It would have been ok to some addresses but to others it would have been way to slow due to hills.

I live at the base of a fairly hefty hill near a Dominos... they're ebikes! The hills are no challenge :) I see them every day.

They've been doing that here in the middle of The Netherlands for a few years now. We don't really eat pizza but it's nice to see them not using those horrible scooters.

Domino's is a larger delivery company than UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash, etc. And it has tripled in value over the past 5 years.

It's cool to see an established company innovate.

THis also follows on massive investment and improvement on their restaurant & food side. They admitted their product sucked and put a lot of work into making it better (which it definitely is). Many of their restaurants are converting from delivery focused to sit-down as well; we'll see if this counter-trend pays off (huge investment required by franchisees to build out locations)

Side note: they are using Rad Power e-bikes: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/.

They sell and ship in the US and Europe. I own one, it’s one amazing bike.

yikes, their site has over 20 different trackers. that's a major turn-off, really don't need to be retargeted relentlessly around the web from one curious click.

>The bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, reflective materials for driver safety ...

From the picture it appears that the bikes are almost fully stealthed for the daytime. Black and dark colours showing to the front which is the direction the collisions come from.

Looks like lots of reflective material on the pizza containers, but I agree black is a poor choice here.

In the US at least, I find that most cities with the type of density where scooters would be more practical usually have much bettter local options for Pizza (NYC, Chicago, SF) often with cheap slices and delivery.

I hope San Francisco is eventually included in this test! I currently can’t have Dominos delivered to my address which I found quite surprising indeed when I tried to order a pizza.

We noticed that too having recently moved here from NYC where Dominos is still largely available :[

Somewhat tangential, but I love Domino's API. It enables cool projects like this: https://github.com/ndmckinley/terraform-provider-dominos

If they go in that direction, why not go with electric sit-on scooters (moped-like) that have a big insulated box on the back like they do in various places in East Asia? Or even the nice compact three wheelers.

Licensing and regulation. We are entering into a new "battery era" that is similar to the "smartphone era" where being battery operated sidesteps old regulations much like being a a phone app sidestepped traditional regulations.

A sit-on scooter typically requires insurance, a drivers license, registration, parking restrictions and cannot ride between traffic or in designated bike lanes ans often the sideway. Battery powered bicycles are not yet seen at "motor vehicles" so they avoid all those issues. This allows them to be cheaper and faster for businesses like dominoes.

You got some interesting points, however, I think the threshold is 50cc (49cc) for gas (and I think 700W/25 mph for electric?) have fewer regulation to meet.

Yes but you still need a regular driver's licence and insurance.

Insurance might not be required, depending on your jurisdiction. In fact, in some states (WA state, for example) motorcycle insurance is not required, regardless of whether it is a 50cc or a 750cc bike.

You still need a driver's license to operate an under 50cc scooter, but it doesn't need to be a special motorcycle license, a general driver's license that a heavy majority of people already possess is enough.

What's old is new again. I still remember the Corbin Sparrow e-trike/experimental Domino's delivery machine from about 20 years ago:


Close enough, I was thinking of these bad boys: https://jalopnik.com/this-japanese-pizza-delivery-scooter-ba...

They want to share this opportunity with people who don't have a driver's license. It's the sharing economy, after all.

I see the future of Uber and the other gig services as just being a SASS provider that handles routing and dispatching without actually needing to maintain a fleet of contractors.

Especially after they get taken to the Supreme Court and it is determined that what they are doing is in fact illegal.

I think leveraging their core competencies as tech companies that have solved the dispatching part of the problem seems a lot more profitable than burning cash while waiting for self driving technology to become real.

they ran the numbers and said "this is more economical" ?

I've ordered from nearby restaurants that have no brand name recognition but simply because they offered the food I was looking for. When finally being in the part of town where they are located, I see the shop for the first time and realize "wow I would never have stepped foot in there". What calculus is dominos doing to think they need their own service, I wonder - aside from being able to afford it and cut out the middleman.

Having been there, I would say the feeling of being "fancy" while ordering, but needing to order cheap without needing to tip and pay for delivery. For something so cheap and so little expendable cash, the delivery cost is high.

I've also noticed more affluent people not tipping when hanging out with them for rides or food delivery, while people in the industry do absolutely tip.

I use a lot of food delivery apps and do not keep up with the different rationales they use to state one price for a meal, while my total is almost double the price.

I don't care if the service fee is a tip or is not a tip, if the app automatically adds a tip as a separate line item, if the service fee and delivery fee is functioning as a tip or not, or if the app service is adequately paying their couriers at all. And that's just in San Francisco! I've done this in many cities and countries where I can totally unsubscribe from tipping culture and not have to even think about the debate because people are not operating under a parallel serfdom regime for wages. I think many "affluent people" have similar multicultural experiences and would just rather not be burdened with the mental exercise. I just have no idea what the apps are doing, I've read enough headlines to assume they're bilking their gig-economy contractors in some way or another, but I accept that it comes with the territory. Why is my total double the price of the single item I ordered? If I make a special request in app and the restaurant actually reads it and does it, I'll definitely tip. (The above rationale is exclusive to food delivery services and tipping couriers. The in restaurant dining experience in the states is one of compulsory tipping.)

Yes, my experience with industry people seems to be a "paying it forward" mentality with no questions asked.

One can imagine an autonomous delivery along the lines of Amazon Scout https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/amazon-scout-delivery-rob... . No tips, no payroll.

I wonder - what usually determins delivery costs is how many deliveries a person does per hour.

That usually depends on the georphical density of deliveries.

And cars are faster. So that means more deliveries.

So order aggregators should have better economics.

This should allow them to take some fees while still offering a better deal.

Why isn't that the case ?

I don't know about Domino's but in many European cities, finding parking is a nightmare in the centers, and usually just walking from where you've parked to the customer takes so much time, that cycling usually is very competitive (sometimes faster).

I live in one of those European cities where cars are just about banned from the city center. (They can access parts of the city center, but driving is limited to 30kmh and mostly one-way traffic. There's 3 dominos near me and they all use scooters. Bikes wouldn't cost them a lot of extra time.

The furtest one away from me is about 10-15 minutes by bike. And that's at a comfortable pace.

Deliveroo (delivery by bike) is already quite popular here.

Funnily enough, Deliveroo has just announced today they are exiting the German market. It's interesting how in so many places there's just one big player left (in Austria there's mjam, in Germany there's takeaway/lieferando). Maybe the market is not big enough for several competitors?

At least one player in each market is executing the "take investor money; earn huge losses in the first five years to kill competition and corner the market; then crank up rates to become profitable" strategy right now.

The thing with that strategy is, you can only do it once, using your initial capital. After you've set your new prices, new players are free to enter the market and compete with you on cost, driving you back out of profitability.

That really depends on where you live.

Take for example a Domino's here in Arnhem:


That outlet is in the middle of a residential area (with a lot of flats). On the map I can see dozens of pathways that cut off a large amount of distance travelled. In this case a bike (or scooter) is going to be much faster than a car.

If you're in the countryside then the math is totally different.

Cars .. faster? Not in the city, and not even close.

Even pedal-power bikes are usually faster. And these bikes are probably 500W nominal, which is already 5 times as powerful as a typical human rider. US limits top speed to 20mph, sure, but you can still peg that pretty easily, even up hills.

Cars are often not faster in dense cities. In NYC most deliveries are by e-bike.

Domino’s has proven to be surprisingly innovative. As far as I know other pizza chains just....operate.

Ignoring the fact that Dominos was a pretty different idea in the late 60’s, and ignoring this new innovation, “operate” is exactly what Dominos did for decades until their reputation for quality was so much in the shitter, they came out and apologized. Frankly, if I’m going to eat catsup-covered cardboard, I’ll get a Little Caeser’s.

Pizza is one of the foods that I like when it's good but I mostly pass on if it's 2nd rate and actively avoid if it's 3rd rate. And not a lot of pizza is 1st rate, especially if it's been sitting around for a while.

I admit to not having had Dominos for a long time so I don't know quite where it and the other big chains sit on that spectrum but I'm guessing it's mostly on the not good side of the continuum.

I had little caesar for the first time about 2 months ago. It's so cheap! If you're going to eat unhealthy take-out, might as well make it cheap take-out. I did prefer Dominos but I'm comparing them across 2 countries (continents, even), so it's not really a fair comparison.

Seattle has this rolled out in Pioneer Square w/Domino's for quite awhile now.

The added benefit in Belltown is like walking by a Subway restaurant pumping out delicious smells, except they pass you with delicious smells.

while this is a far cry from the deliverator of snow crash, this still reminds me of the opening from that book when talking about the fictional US of the future

"y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:



microcode (software)

high-speed pizza delivery"

I think it does make sense for the pizza companies to own this part of logistics like they already had with the car in this country.

Domino's, the pizza place?

There is one huge food-specific issue here. Bicycles, e-bikes, are narrow. Pizza is not. If there is one think bike riders hate more than sharing a trail with an ebike, it has to be sharing a trail with an ebike that is three feet across due to an extra-large pizza.

Where are you getting 3 foot wide pizzas from? The largest pizza I've ever seen was perhaps 22 inches in diameter. It looks like Domino's extra large size is 16", so they're probably not causing too much havoc out on the bike trails.

Interestingly, Dominos maintains a page on their domain about pizza sizes[0] that fails to disclose the sizes of most of their pizzas (the 10" inch "small" size seems to be disclosed almost accidentally).

[0] https://www.dominos.com/en/about-pizza/pizza-sizes/

The box and the warming bag add several inches, so it's probably two feet.

The road is for everyone. If you're faster, then overtake.

And that is coming from a cyclist.

Unless you're ordering a giant sheet pizza, a large pizza box tends to be roughly the width of a bike's handlebars.

A Domino's extra-large pizza is 16", comparable to the width of the handlebars. I think they'll be fine.

Pizza is already being delivered by bikes and scooters just fine where I live.. Though the largest pizza is about 40cm diameter. 3 feet, that's like 1m. That might pose a challenge, but damn are people actually ordering that much pizza? :P

I mean, just order 2 40cm ones in that case. Problem solved, no?

Perhaps they've developed a lossless pizza compression algorithm.

If there is one think bike riders hate more than sharing a trail with an ebike

PSA: gatekeeper alert, do not engage. All the symptoms are there:

- Claims to speak for all.

- Divides participants into acceptable/not acceptable.

- Probably wears team kit for a team he doesn’t actually ride for.

- Really bad at measurements, even when the specifications are clearly listed.

If you find you have engaged a gatekeeper, cease engagement at once and go ride your ebike. Because anyone who would rather you drive a car than an ebike isn’t worth the time or aggravation.

I wonder how many micromorts I'm exposing delivery people to each time they bring me a pizza on an e-bike.

Wikipedia suggests about 1 micromort per 10 miles on a bike [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromort] so maybe it's 1/2 micromort in an urban area and 1 in the suburbs.

I used to ride a bike for Deliveroo in the UK.

It's quite gamified due to the per drop pricing and tips etc. I found it hard to not ride like a maniac.

And I didn't even need the money, I did it because it seemed funny to basically get paid to exercise.

It might be net negative ironically - increased accidental death but exercise being good for their health compared to sitting there answering the phone or driving.

It will also likely increase food costs for the delivery person, assuming they increase their energy expenditure and maintain body weight. Whether the increased food costs are made up for by decreasing other costs (namely car maintenance and fuel) is probably worth calculating.

I would take that with a grain of salt. Of the two micromort numbers on the wikipedia page, one is more dangerous than walking and one is less dangerous.

I'd also suspect that someone who rides a bike for their job is likely likely than the average person to die in a crash. People that die in bike accidents are disproportionately not doing two things:

1. Wearing helmets

2. Being sober (20+% of adult cyclists that get killed are too drunk to legally drive a car [1], and "drunk cyclist sober/car driver" is actually a lot more common in fatal crashes than "drunk driver/sober cyclist" [2])

I don't want to victim blame, but there's relatively easy things you can do that drastically reduce your risk of dying on a bike.

There's also some intangibles, like someone who rides all the time is going to be more familiar with safer routes (OTOH they may be encouraged to ride more recklessly to maximize profits?). Even with a pedal assist bike, I'd also imagine that the health benefits would partially offset that micromort.

[1]: https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/bicyc...

[2]: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/...

> they may be encouraged to ride more recklessly to maximize profits

Having been a delivery driver, and well, just casually observing others - this is likely to be an enormous factor.

Motorized scooters in particular seem to behave in frankly absurd ways, mounting the pavement at 15mph etc.

Back when they were far more common, bike messengers in places like Manhattan were notorious for riding all over the place, including sidewalks, fast and recklessly.

I mean, this is why lorries/trucks have tachometers and tightly regulated sleeping patterns etc.

Because otherwise you'd have truckers banging it around at 130kmh for 10 hours at a time.

You'd be terrified to learn that many do this by doctoring their paperwork. At least in the United States.

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