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Retail food delivery is a service in which a restaurant, store, or independent food delivery company delivers food to a customer. An order is typically made either through a restaurant or grocer's website or phone, or through a food ordering company, like GrubHub, Postmates, or UberEATS. The delivered items can include entrees, sides, drinks, desserts, or grocery items and are typically delivered in boxes or bags. The delivery person will normally drive a car, but in bigger cities where homes and restaurants are closer together, they may use bikes or motorized scooters.
Customers can, depending on the delivery company, choose to pay online or in person, with cash or card. A flat rate delivery fee is often charged with what the customer has bought. Tips are often customary for food delivery service.
Meal delivery orders are typically on demand, and intended to be eaten right away, and include hot, already-prepared food. Pizza delivery is the largest meal delivery industry at the moment.[not in citation given] Ordering for delivery usually involves contacting a local restaurant or chain by telephone or online. Online ordering is available in many countries, were some stores offer online menus and ordering. New companies such as, such as DoorDash and GrubHub, have their own interfaces where customers order food from nearby restaurants that have partnered with the service. Meal delivery requires special technology and care, sense the food items are already cooked and prepared, and can be easily damaged if dropped, tilted, or left out for long periods of time. Hotbags are often used to keep food warm. They are thermal bags, typically made of vinyl, nylon, or Cordura, that passively retain heat.
In Mumbai, dabbawalas deliver hundreds of thousands of lunches to paying subscribers every workday through a system of rail and bicycle links. The lunches are sent in tiffin carriers, and are prepared in the late morning by either a restaurant or family member (typically a wife for a working husband, since many families still follow traditional asymmetrical gender roles). The tiffins are then returned either in the afternoon or the next day by the same system.
Meal kits delivery is almost the same like meal delivery but meal is being delivered unprepared. Usually it is part of predefined simple recipes that can be chosen on meal kit delivery service. It is very similar to IKEA but in meal world.
Grocery delivery companies will deliver groceries, pre-prep or pre-made meals, and more to customers. The companies work with brick and mortar stores or their own line of grocery items. These orders are typically larger and more expensive than normal meal deliveries, and are often not meant to be eaten right away, rather they are to replace items someone has run out of, like flour or milk. They are almost always done online, and typically take at least one day to deliver, though some companies offer same-day delivery. Grocery delivery differs greatly from meal delivery in the sense that its is usually sent as a parcel through common mailing services like USPS or FedEx. Sense the items are normally packaged before arriving at grocery stores, they can easily be repackaged and delivered to customers without any special care. Sometimes, dry ice is added to keep perishable items fresh.
The grocery delivery business has taken off, with hundreds of niche delivery companies springing up offering a variety of different services from weekly grocery restock to pre-planned, pre-measured family meals to make cooking easier. Online retailer giants have hopped on board too. Amazon.com, for example, offers AmazonFresh delivery service. Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market in 2017, and by 2018 Amazon had added Whole Foods items to its Prime Now service, for 2-hour delivery in certain markets.
In addition to paying for the food, customers will often have to pay a delivery fee. The delivery fee will cover the cost of gas or other transportation costs, but usually does not go to the delivery person. For meal delivery, it is common to give the deliverer an optional tip upon paying for the order. In Canada and the United States, tipping for delivery is customary. Opinions on appropriate amounts vary widely.
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