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How does DoorDash work?

DoorDash is an on-demand food delivery service powered by gig workers. It is, to put it simply, an Uber for food (much like Uber Eats). Founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco, the DoorDash app lets you order food from a variety of nearby participating restaurants. It also lets people sign up to become food deliverers (nicknamed Dashers) and, obviously, lets restaurants sign up to have their food delivered to customers.

According to a November 2019 report from the consumer analytics firm Second Measure, it’s the most popular app-based food delivery service in the U.S., ahead of Uber Eats and GrubHub. The app currently holds about 38% of the U.S. food delivery market and has only become more popular in 2021 due to changing times and lockdown needs like safe, contactless food delivery. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s what you should know.

For eaters

Hungry? Well, the first step in using DoorDash is to download it from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. One thing you should remember is that, currently, DoorDash is available only in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Step 1: Once downloaded onto your iOS or Android smartphone, you should then open the app and begin signing up for a customer account. To do this, you have to fill in basic personal information, such as your name, physical address, email address, and phone number. If you want, you can sign up via Facebook or Google. You also have to create a password, which you should carefully note down afterward.

Step 2: Once signed up, you can begin ordering food. You can do this by browsing through the DoorDash app’s main page, or you can tap the Search icon at the bottom of the screen to type the name of a restaurant or tap a specific category of food. Since it knows your address, Doordash can offer local deals, past favorites, and fastest delivery options, along with all options available under All Restaurants. Estimated delivery times, fees, and ratings are all shown for each restaurant. Note that if a restaurant is grayed out, that means it’s closed and cannot deliver.

Step 3: If you tap a restaurant, you’ll be taken to that restaurant’s menu page. Here, you can tap on specific food items or tap on categories (e.g. popular items). Restaurants can customize what they offer here, but there are typically options to select additional ingredients, add meat or make things vegetarian, add or remove dining utensils, and more. Once you’ve made any desired changes, you can then tap the Add to Order button at the bottom of the screen.

Step 4: After ordering your first item, you can add additional items by tapping the Close button at the top of the screen (it looks like an X). If you want to place your order, you need to tap the View Cart button. Here, you can see the items you’ve selected and also the total price of your order. If you’re ready to pay, tap the Continue tab.

Step 5: If this is your first time, you’ll be prompted to select a payment method. You can choose either Apple Pay or Google Pay (depending on your smartphone), or you can choose to pay with a credit or debit card. If you choose a credit or debit card, you’ll be prompted to enter your card information (if you haven’t ordered before). Tap Save after entering the correct information. The payment process is automatic after this, so you don’t need to worry about doing this again unless you want to switch payment methods.

Step 6: You’ll then come to the checkout page. Double-check your address details and add delivery instructions (such as what to do if no one answers the door). Also, check all your fees: DoorDash will divide fees based on the cost of the meal, the delivery fee, and the tip you are paying the driver. The tip is usually set from $4 to $6 based on a variety of factors, but it can be adjusted. Finally, tap Place Order.

 Step 7: DoorDash will now give you a progress bar that shows when your order is picked up, on its way, and delivered, noting how many minutes this should (not guaranteed) take. It includes a map that shows your destination, the restaurant’s location, and the location of the driver who takes your order. Drivers may text or call you with updates, menu changes, and other information, although this can be a little hit or miss. After delivery, you will be asked to rate the Dasher and the restaurant.

DoorDash DashPass subscription

Screenshot of the DashPass feature on the DoorDash app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Users also have the option to sign up for DashPass, which is a subscription service for frequent users. DashPass helps you save money in a few different ways — but with a $10 monthly fee.

The service includes benefits like zero delivery fees for orders above $12 (the exact amount may vary, but it’s usually between $10 and $15). Not all restaurants participate in DashPass savings, but it’s quite common, especially for larger chains. Subscribers also get priority customer support and special promotions for local restaurants. Deals can also change over time.

There is no contract for DashPass: You can sign up and cancel any time you want. DoorDash estimates that it pays for itself if you make three large orders per month. Just a simple two-dish order tends to be above $12 for most places, so it isn’t hard to activate.


DashMart is an additional service that DoorDash provides beyond basic food delivery. With DashMart, you can order food ingredients, basic medications, hygiene supplies, and a variety of pet supplies for quick delivery as well. DoorDash has partnered with businesses like Walgreens, 7-Eleven, CVS, Wawa, Pet-Smart, and others to make this available. The key value offering here is the speed of delivery, which is designed to be around 30 minutes, like their food delivery service.

For drivers (aka Dashers)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

For anyone who wants to become a Dasher, the registration process with DoorDash is relatively straightforward. You have to sign up via the company’s website, and then enter your email address, telephone number, and zip code. Most importantly, you also have to fill in a background check, which requires info such as your birth date, Social Security number, and vehicle type.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll then have to wait while DoorDash checks your details and approves your application. It almost goes without saying, but you have to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license, valid insurance, and a clean driving record. You can use any road-worthy vehicle to deliver food with DoorDash.

Once your application has been accepted, you can log into the DoorDash app to check for available pickups and drop-offs. Once you’ve accepted an order, you’ll then have to arrive at the restaurant just before the provided pickup time. You then use the app to confirm your arrival at the restaurant, and you also have to check off each item of the delivery. Then you drive to the customer’s address.

Door dashers should definitely check to see if they’re eligible for a bit more money via the DoorDash Drive program—which compensates drivers for larger food delivery orders. Most drivers are eligible to sign up for this program if they have an average customer rating of 4.8 over at least 100 deliveries and a 90% order completion rate at a minimum.

For restaurants

If you’re a restaurant owner hoping to reach the DoorDash customer base, you need to go to the company’s website and fill out a Partner Application. Whether your restaurant is one of many in a country-wide franchise, or a small, mom-and-pop diner, you can partner with DoorDash. Restaurants of any size can also check out DoorDash’s custom financial advice and Storefront service. That program gives restaurants the chance to establish an online DoorDash store and services through the DoorDash Drive program. 

After a restaurant has partnered with DoorDash, a representative will need to customize exactly how the restaurant would like to receive food orders and share its name, address, and functioning phone number. There are a few plans to choose from: the DoorDash Tablet plan costs about $6 every week, to give you an idea, and the Tablet Printer plan reaches about $9 a week. It’s important to note that DoorDash’s commission is currently 30% of all DoorDash orders’ value. This is a generous rate, but the company says that their app can also boost restaurant takeout sales by a whopping 50%.

Frequently asked questions about DoorDash

Can a customer request a specific DoorDash driver?

At this time, the app does not allow customers to choose a driver. Once an order has been placed, the process is somewhat automated, and drivers are assigned based on internal rules. For instance, drivers close to the customer’s address will be prioritized, while ones not in the vicinity may only see the order if a nearby driver is unavailable. Other factors like driver ratings also influence which drivers see the order first, thus creating a specific system of organization for assigning drivers to orders. So, for now, customers can’t really influence this process.

Can I block a DoorDash driver?

Customers can’t really choose or block specific DoorDash drivers, but you can avoid deliveries from a specific driver. If you’ve experienced trouble with a specific driver, you can contact customer support, and it’s possible they may internally block the driver from delivering to your address. This doesn’t mean the driver will stop working for DoorDash, but they may be prevented from delivering to your house again.

Can I order anything on DoorDash?

DoorDash offers a wide variety of participating restaurants for customers to choose from. You can enter your location in the app and discover new and popular restaurants nearby. You, as a customer, can choose to order anything from these restaurants, based on what’s available (although remember, some dishes may be seasonal or holiday specials). You can order a single dish or combine multiple dishes based on your personal preferences. You can also order groceries on the app.

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Simon Chandler
Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London, UK. He covers technology and finance, contributing to such titles as Digital…
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