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In the US, Food Delivery Services Struggle to Achieve Super App Status
January 13, 2022
With food being a multiple-times-a-day necessity for consumers, fulfilling this need allows apps to embed themselves deeply in their users’ daily routines.

Food delivery services, bringing meals to consumers’ doors with the speed and convenience they increasingly expect, have the opportunity to quickly become indispensable. Yet, while some apps have been able to parlay this relationship into other categories — becoming super apps that fulfill the bulk of their digital needs — none in the United States have been able to follow in their footsteps.

It was reported Thursday (Jan. 6) that Uber will soon end its Uber Eats restaurant delivery service in Brazil, focusing instead on retail and grocery delivery. And news broke Monday (Jan. 10) that German food delivery giant Delivery Hero has sold the bulk of its investment — a $150 million share of its ownership — in Latin American delivery company Rappi. It seems that the market in Latin America has proved too competitive for these would-be super apps.

Rappi, for its part, has already managed to be a super app, delivering restaurant meals, groceries and consumer goods as well as offering an entertainment hub with games, music and live events. Brazil’s Movile commerce platform is also on its way, offering food delivery, payment processing, ticketing, children’s video content, gaming and other services.

In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, Singapore- and Indonesia-based Grab has been able to take hold, providing food delivery, ride-hailing, financial services and more. Indonesia’s Gojek company has also captured consumers’ attention, offering a similar suite of products.

In the United States, however, the “how we eat” pillar of the connected economy — how people use connected technologies to get their food needs met — remains only a feature of many companies aiming to achieve super app status, rather than becoming central to their offerings.

Research from PYMNTS’ October report “The Digital Divide, Aggregators: The Cost Of Convenience,” created in collaboration with Paytronix, which surveyed more than 2,200 U.S. adults about their food ordering behavior, found that only 17% had used an aggregator to order from their favorite restaurant in the previous three months. The November edition, “Digital Divide Delivery Service Aggregators And The Digital Shift,” revealed that the majority of consumers — 59% — had not used an aggregator at all in the previous year and a half.

Delivery Service Aggregators And The Digital Shift

Given that aggregators have not been able to take hold in the same way in the United States, unable to become central to most consumers’ daily routines, apps such as Uber and even retail and grocery giant Walmart, which has been adding food delivery to its digital platforms through its Ghost Kitchen Brands partnership, have not been able to achieve the super app status seen in other parts of the world.

Notably, consumers want a super app to streamline their digital routines. Research from PYMNTS’ December study “The Connected Consumer In The Digital Economy: Who Wants to Live in a Digital Connected Economy — and Why?” found that 67% of all U.S. consumers want a super app to manage their digital activities. The demand is there, but perhaps in this country, the entry point will exist outside the food delivery space.

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