Why Delivery Apps Are Still in Business if They’re the Worst Financial Idea Ever

Desiree Peralta
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Delivery apps came into the world at the right time to solve a small problem that became a necessity: transporting food from restaurants that did not have this option.

Thanks to the pandemic, these apps were the solution to being able to eat from restaurants, and after people got used to not having to go out to eat fast food or their favorite place, they now pay for whatever the app says to receive their food at home.

We are in a moment that is not about having a real need of food delivered to a place, but an alternative of even something you would not have considered in other circumstances, like having fast food on a random Tuesday because you are lazy on the couch.

However, this not only became a solution for a simple problem but one of the big financial mistakes for normal users.

Apart from the delivery fees, delivery apps now have foods even 91% more expensive than in the place, according toNew York Times.And people still prefer to use them because they are practical, no matter how much it costs them.

But if it’s such a wrong financial decision, why does this business keep making millions annually, growing, and with more and more competition?

Here I will show you how these apps work for the users from a business perspective and how you can apply those strategies to grow your side hustle.

They sell you the app as the ultimate solution for all your problems.

At first, these apps started simply as a delivery solution. Right now, it is the best “alternative” you have to eat and the answer to all your food problems (or at least this is what they want to sell).

Before these apps existed, eating at a restaurant was a process that consumed time and energy: you had to shower and change, leave the house, drive or walk to a place, see a menu, pay, sit down, eat, and come back.

If you didn’t like what they had in that restaurant, you had to settle for the less bad option or go out to your car and repeat the process.

If you decided not to leave the house because you didn’t want to go through that process, you would have to go to the kitchen, decide what to eat, prepare the food, and then clean up all the mess left.

Currently, these apps sell you the solution to simplicity, not having to do any of that and still being able to eat. Everything is even well packed in disposable stuff, so you don’t make any mess.

Just thinking about having to do so many things makes people believe that a delivery app is a better alternative, and that’s why they pay whatever it takes for this service.

What started as a simply delivering app has evolved into fixing your life and time. It not only gives you a food alternative but the power to save time and energy, not having to go out, not having to dress up, and even clean.

This evolution is similar to what happened to smartwatches.

They started as a simple accessory for notification and money status and evolved into a health solution for your sedentary and stress problems. The big companies realized that a simple watch would probably die if their only function was to give the hour and notifications, so they built a solution for all the health problems, being able even to save lives.

So if you have a product or service that solves a simple product, search for a way to show that it is mores than that and aim to make people feel this is the only possible option.

The easy way to do anything inside those apps makes all users decide to buy without even thinking if they really need it.

One thing that makes anyone interested in using any application is its simplicity. And food delivery apps have achieved that function.

You enter any of these apps, and with exactly four clicks, you can have your food at home:

  1. Choose a restaurant
  2. Select food
  3. Select address
  4. And pay.

Many apps even put your favorite restaurant and order at the start, so you don’t have to give more than two clicks.

Your credit card is saved with a “favorite one” option so you can order even if you don’t have your wallet with you, and you have more than one address so you can order from your job, mom, or girlfriend’s house, and even in the street without typing it every time you enter.

Without the delivery apps, if you want to go out, you will have to make hundreds of steps, choose before you go, and if you want to order from the phone, you have to say your address and credit card repeatedly.

You will not have the menu at a single click and had to enter the Instagram restaurant or their website. If they don’t have any of this, you will have to call directly and ask someone by phone option by option, or go to the store.

But now you don’t have to choose anything first. You can compare prices, think about what you would like more, and even order from different places without leaving your house.

And they make everything so easy that you don’t even have time to decide if it’s better to cook at home.

When you make a product so simple that people don’t have to think long to make a purchase, you’re getting 90% of the population as customers.

I once attended a seminar where the speaker said, “Parents are wrong. They think their kids are smart because they can use a smartphone; I say companies are the smart ones because they can make their products so easy to use that even a kid can figure it out.”

If you want a massive amount of customers, you must make your products as easy as to use as possible.

They make you feel you have the power and control all the time.

Most delivery apps have the following features:

  • Select the restaurant you want, even if it is not the closest one to your location.
  • A progress bar and a map so you can see where your food is in real-time and how much is left to get there.
  • The name and a chat/number of who will take the order to your house.
  • Be able to rate the restaurant and delivery at the end of your process so you can say how satisfied you are.
  • A button to speak directly with a representative in case something happens at some point in your process and you need assistance.

Those things will make you feel you have control of your order at any moment of the process and the power to decide if you are happy with the service, making you feel good that someone cares about your well-being.

However, this is also a marketing strategy to make you feel comfortable and important.

In the Harvard article “The New Science of Customer Emotions,” Scott Magids and his team talk about why businesses should play on emotions when it comes to attracting users:

“When companies connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge. Given the enormous opportunity to create new value, companies should pursue emotional connections as a science — and a strategy.

For example, after a major bank introduced a credit card for Millennials that was designed to inspire emotional connection, use among the segment increased by 70% and new account growth rose by 40%. Within a year of launching products and messaging to maximize emotional connection, a leading household cleaner turned market share losses into double-digit growth.”

Another research shows how helping others feel powerful can boost different levels of satisfaction in people:

“Helping others feel more powerful can boost productivity, improve performance, and leave people feeling more satisfied. Feelings of power also translated to more authenticity and feelings of well-being, the researchers found. Power made the subjects feel more “true to themselves,” enabling them to engage in actions that authentically reflected values they hold dear.”

A good connection is the best way for a business to create customer loyalty, as customers who feel valued keep returning to use their service.

They trick you with the notification bait: you want to take action because of them.

Push notifications are the reason why most people suffer from phone addiction. Several studies show how notification impacts our brain and conditions it to the point that we feel that we need to answer immediately.

Price anchoring and different types of offers also play with our brain psychologically, making us believe that we have a good deal and need to buy immediately not to miss out.

These apps play with both.

They send you push notifications when your favorite restaurant has a deal, put prices under a quantity that makes you want to buy, give you coupons, and sometimes even offer “free delivery.”

They know that when you hear a notification, you want to take action, even if it’s just closing it. But one day, you will be bored on your couch, and it will be impossible to ignore it.

Make your product or service impossible to ignore. Notifications are not only used to notify you about something but also to remind you that they are on your phone.

Final thoughts

Delivery apps have done an excellent job making the eating process so easy that you have not realized it’s a terrible financial decision or are okay with it.

From a business perspective, having an app that solves so many solutions and is so simple and easy to use that people will choose it over anything, even if it’s the more expensive option, is a big success. It also shows us that no matter how much money you offer your service, if the user is happy with it, they will pay anything.

If you want to apply those strategies to your business, pay attention to the following point summarized:

  • Sell your app as the ultimate solution for all the problems a user can have.
  • Make your product so easy to use that people decide to buy it without even thinking if they really need it.
  • Make users have the power and control all the time.
  • Use the notification bait: make people want to take action on your app because of them.


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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing, productivity, and self-development advice.

Yonkers, NY
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