Food delivery is practically a necessity for every sleep-deprived or lazy college student. Over the past week, I have taken the liberty to try out three popular food delivery apps — Grubhub, EatStreet and Joyrun — and have compared their pros and cons.
Out of the three, Grubhub is probably the most well known. You’ll see plenty of small Grubhub coupons littered across campus from time to time for their special promotions. Grubhub has both an online website and mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS.
Using Grubhub was a breeze; on their website you can simply enter your address and a list of restaurants will pop up with information on delivery fees, minimum order size, price range and ratings. They also have a sidebar with options to help you filter and narrow down your choices by cuisine type, coupons or ratings. The mobile app version behaves similarly with the same type of interface.
I ordered Grubhub on the day campus closed for the snowstorm. I really appreciated that Grubhub let me know which stores were and weren’t delivering, even if it was technically within a restaurant’s business hours. I ended up choosing Capital Corner’s Baby Shrimp Fried Rice and Scallops with Garlic Sauce.
The delivery itself was speedy and efficient. While GrubHub doesn’t control all the deliveries, there was delivery tracking built into the Grubhub website, as well as an order time with live updates. The tracking was highly accurate, and my food arrived right around the estimated arrival time of 6:06 p.m.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
The next food delivery service I used was Grubhub’s rival, Eatstreet. EatStreet shares many similarities with Grubhub. They both have highly similar website and mobile app designs, with similar functions and options. My order process with EatStreet was basically the same as Grubhub, although I will note that EatStreet appears to offer less restaurant variety than Grubhub does. However, as a small plug for EatStreet, they often have killer promotions; I recall one time ordering large Papa Johns pizzas for only $2 each off of the EatStreet exclusive deal.
My experience with EatStreet’s delivery was not nearly as smooth as was Grubhub. EatStreet appears to have some inaccuracies in updating accounting information and used an old phone number for my Jade Garden order of Shrimp Mei Fun. In addition, EatStreet lacks its own autonomous delivery tracking service, instead requiring you to download a separate tracking app.
The tracking app, Zoomer, is a whole other story of its own. First off, Zoomer is not compatible with the newest version of Android, as I attempted to use Zoomer on my phone with Android 7.0 and the Google Play store was unable to let me download it. I instead had to use my tablet in order to actually download the app and get it up and running. Zoomer then requires you to enter your phone number and an activation key.
Once I got the tracking app situation sorted out, EatStreet used my old phone number to place the order, which caused me to miss the first delivery. I had to directly call the restaurant itself to resolve the situation.
Overall rating: 3/5
Lastly, I placed an order with JoyRun, a startup founded in late 2016. JoyRun distinguishes itself based on its “runs” system. JoyRun is transforming the ridesharing concept of Uber and Lyft into something like delivery-sharing. They have “runners” take orders from large groups of people, and the runner then delivers the orders to each person, typically at a communal location.
I would say the app itself is a bit unintuitive to use and takes a bit of getting used to. You initiate the process by either starting a run or joining a run. You can place your order via the app and chat directly with other customers or the runner. Once a run is initiated, you can see who else is also joining the run and ordering. You get notified whenever a runner picks up the order, people join the run, the run actually begins, or if you are sent a message from the runner.
Ultimately the huge plus about JoyRun is its cost and variety. JoyRun breaks down the barriers of delivery services through having individual, freelance runners. Because JoyRun is not limited to ordering from only restaurants with delivery services. they can purchase items and deliver from stores like Starbucks or McDonalds. In addition, there are many JoyRun specials and exclusives offered constantly, with things like $2 Starbucks or $0.50 wings for Buffalo Wild Wings.
One caveat about JoyRun is its massive number of push notifications. Throughout the day I will get around ten to fifteen push notifications about runs, discounts or reminders to use my promotional balance. In addition, because of how JoyRun functions, you are dependent on runs being initiated as opposed to having on-demand service from other delivery apps. On a fundamental level, the run system that JoyRun has put together has two critical flaws: runner availability and consumer preferences. Because what food or items customers want can vary greatly between any set of individuals, as well as the fact that JoyRun’s current customer base is not very large, the chances of a sizeable group of overlaps in food choices is not very high. JoyRun typically only has a small handful of actual options of runs at any given point in time. Moreover, because runner availability peaks during the day and tanks at nighttime, you really don’t have as much flexibility in when and where you get to order from. Put together, this can cause plenty of frustration for those who just want a clean and simple night of takeout.
I was able to take advantage of one of the JoyRun specials — $2 drinks from Starbucks — on a snow day. While my runner had set the designated meeting location to be up on the Arts Quad, I was able to arrange to meet elsewhere on West Campus. Overall with JoyRun, you get the occasional killer promotions, but your flexibility and choices can often be severely hampered due to the runner system, and there is no real delivery tracking system.
Overall rating: 3.5/5
In summary, Grubhub ultimately reigns supreme over JoyRun and EatStreet. Grubhub’s longstanding reputation and large customer base helps it take the lead over the two newer companies. While not a perfect app, Grubhub simply avoids the same frustrations or issues that can arise while using JoyRun or EatStreet. When it comes down to customer service for these three apps, all of them share the same weakness, in that customer service is dependent on the restaurant or runners, and cannot be quality controlled.
This is not to say that JoyRun and EatStreet are not without their own merits. JoyRun is definitely the cheapest of the three and offers the best variety of stores and restaurants to choose from. In addition, the constant onslaught of notifications of coupons might just turn you into a believer. Although in most scenarios, EatStreet is a mediocre version of Grubhub, when EatStreet does have promotions they are insanely well-priced.