When things get worse with all of the major delivery companies, are there better options for independent contractors?
There are several alternatives to Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Instacart. However, in my years of experience, I found that it's better to look at them as additional opportunities rather than alternatives. Rather than replacing the major delivery apps with these companies, one should look at how they can weave all the opportunities together.
We'll look at the big picture of choosing from the many delivery earnings opportunities out there. We'll also talk about some of the niches in the delivery world, including smaller meal delivery companies, catering, shopping and groceries, and last-mile package delivery.
- The best strategy for choosing which delivery platform to contract with
- Comparing delivery platforms
- Smaller meal delivery companies
- Catering delivery
- Shopping and grocery delivery
- Last-mile package delivery
- Pros and Cons of alternative delivery options
See our web story: Alternatives to Doordash for Independent Contractors
The best strategy for choosing which delivery platform to contract with
Which is better? To deliver for the big delivery companies, or choose some of the alternatives to Doordash, Uber Eats, Instacart, and others?
All of the above.
The thing to remember is that you're an independent contractor. To be successful as an independent contractor, you need to think of this as running your own business, as opposed to working a job. This involves a change in mindset away from thinking like an employee.
An employee works for one company. A business owner seeks out multiple customers. In this situation, Doordash, Uber, and the smaller delivery companies are your customers. What you want to do is find the best opportunities from each platform and weave them together to create a profitable business.
You can read more about how to multi-app, where we share strategies for working with several platforms in order to keep your earnings up.
Comparing delivery companies
Awhile back, I wrote a comparison of the major food delivery companies. In another article, I wrote about why I felt that Uber Eats is the best delivery platform for someone just getting started. It wasn't a preference as much as the insurance situation is better.
A lot has changed since writing the comparison. Postmates went away, Grubhub was bought out by a European company. I've thought about writing a newer comparison, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter what I think. I once wrote about my opinions on rideshare versus delivery and why I don't do rideshare. In the end, it's a personal preference.
When you start to look at these delivery companies as customers and start to be strategic about which company or companies you deliver for at which times, the comparisons and personal preferences don't mean as much. My opinions are meaningless compared to what's important for you.
In the end, it's not about choosing one over the others. Instead, it's evaluating opportunities from each company and finding ways to work them all together. This is the best strategy for when it's harder to get good offers from any one delivery company. When you take this approach, it makes more sense to look at other types of delivery companies as well, which we'll talk about next.
Smaller meal delivery companies
For several years, meal delivery has been dominated by the big three: Doordash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. While Seamless and Postmates are also nationwide food delivery options, they are owned by Grubhub and Uber, respectively, and are thus no longer independent delivery options for independent contractors.
Some food delivery options are more regional, such as Bitesquad and Waitr (now ASAP). They've established a footprint across several states but are far from nationwide. Some others may work in only one state or in one or more cities.
I recently started doing some deliveries for Meals Now, a small delivery company that serves 14 markets. Unfortunately, they only have one restaurant chain in my market, so the opportunities are limited.
Some of the best delivery opportunities available are with catering orders. The orders are larger, often for several hundred dollars worth of food, so the earnings opportunities are often much higher. The orders typically require a little more effort, including often setting up the food at the customer site. However, the pay for the time is often competitive with or superior to individual meal delivery.
If you are in the large order programs with any of the major companies, you may be familiar with catering orders. Many of those orders come through EZCater, who also contracts with some of these other companies. There's typically a smaller delivery window for many of these companies, so you may only be able to take one or two orders per day.
Some of the better known delivery options include:
- DeliverThat. You can see our Deliverthat driver review here.
- Red Wagon Delivers
Shopping and grocery delivery
Another type of delivery that has become popular is grocery delivery and opportunities to shop for others.
Instacart has been the dominant platform for shopping and grocery delivery. Shipt and Spark are their biggest competitors. In recent years, Doordash and Uber Eats have ramped up their own shop-and-deliver options to compete with these platforms.
An innovative option for shopping is a company called Dumpling. Dumpling allows drivers to build direct relationships with customers, allowing customers to then request services directly from the driver.
Shopping and grocery delivery can pay quite well, although at times they can also be poor earning options. It often depends on how well one is able to find items and get checked out. I've had mixed results, with some orders being extremely time-consuming, while some small orders have been rather profitable.
Last-mile package delivery
There's another niche in the delivery market that typically involves non-food items. This is often where you deliver packages or items, typically delivering for the merchants themselves.
Last-mile delivery companies usually contract with the merchant, as opposed to taking orders directly from the customer. In this scenario, a business may request a delivery where items are delivered to a consumer or to another business.
Roadie was one of the first national companies to offer last-mile delivery services. They were acquired by UPS in 2021. Roadie allows several different types of businesses to offer delivery services through the platform.
Veho provides route delivery in several markets, where a driver can pick up a number of packages. In my Veho driver review, I share my experience delivering routes of 20-30 Hello Fresh packages.
Curri is another last-mile option that has its own twist. Curri focuses on building supply deliveries, where you pick up typically from supply businesses and deliver either to contractors or job sites. My Curry driver review shares my experiences with Curri delivery.
Another well-known route delivery option is GoPuff. GoPuff acts as a sort of convenience store delivery service, where GoPuff actually provides the merchandise. Drivers typically work with routes, where they'll pick up several packages at a time.
Pros and cons of alternative delivery options
I'm a big advocate for developing as many independent contractor relationships as possible. The main delivery companies seem to be in a race to zero as to how much they pay. Due to either business dropping off or these companies over-saturating the market with drivers, I'm noticing longer wait times between orders. If one wants to continue delivering as an independent contractor, it makes sense to expand one's opportunities with these other delivery companies.
I've noticed the pay can often be much better with some of these delivery options. Some of the orders that take more time offer more consistent earnings than the one-off delivery models of Doordash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. Some offers can pay incredibly well for the time involved.
The biggest drawback to many of these options is that you have to think differently about how deliveries happen. With typical meal delivery, you deliver one order, and you often have another waiting for you when you get done. You can often keep moving and stay busy through much or all of the day.
With smaller companies, there may not be as many opportunities. Many catering and route deliveries work on a schedule, which means you could have some downtime leading up to the pickup. Others may require you to drive further to pick up or the delivery may take you further away.
Smaller companies often aren't as polished. They may be more likely to control aspects of your work, such as requiring certain clothing. They sometimes aren't as good at explaining how things work to new contractors, or their payment methods may not be as convenient.
None of these things are deal breakers, in my opinion. I don't look for an alternate delivery company to replace Doordash or Uber Eats, but instead for all of them to supplement one another. As long as one does a good job estimating the time involvement from each delivery opportunity, I think they can do well weaving all of the opportunities together into a solid business model.