Restaurant Density and Delivery Speed in Food Delivery Platforms

48 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2023 Last revised: 4 Mar 2024

See all articles by Wenchang Zhang

Wenchang Zhang

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Zhanzhi Zheng

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Ruomeng Cui

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Date Written: April 14, 2023

Abstract

With the rapid growth of food delivery platforms, understanding their operational implications for partnered restaurants is crucial. This paper compares three main externalities induced by an increase in restaurant density on a platform: customer expansion, cannibalization, and delivery pooling (i.e., drivers being in closer proximity to restaurants). Using a theoretical model, we develop testable hypotheses about the impact of these externalities on various aspects of partnered restaurants, including delivery speed (i.e., order wait time), sales, revenues, and customers' spending behaviors. Econometric analysis, based on data from a major Chinese food delivery platform, shows that as the platform's restaurant density increases, delivery speed, sales, and revenues improve for partnered restaurants. However, customers are found to opt for smaller order sizes in denser areas. The empirical evidence then indicates that delivery pooling emerges as the dominant externality compared to customer expansion and cannibalization as a platform expands regionally. Exploiting structural estimation, we further demonstrate that the driver arrival speed at a restaurant and restaurant density follow an inverted-U-shaped relationship, suggesting a diminishing benefit to delivery speed from increasing restaurant density. Lastly, using instrumental variable estimation, we find that both restaurant sales and customer spending behaviors are highly sensitive to delivery speed, underscoring the dominant role of delivery pooling. Our findings highlight the importance of optimizing restaurant density for food delivery platforms undergoing expansion and recommend a focus on maintaining high restaurant density areas to maximize delivery speed. This can foster a scenario beneficial not only for platforms but also for restaurant partners and customers.

Keywords: Food-delivery platforms, restaurant density, platform expansion, delivery efficiency

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Wenchang and Zheng, Zhanzhi and Cui, Ruomeng, Restaurant Density and Delivery Speed in Food Delivery Platforms (April 14, 2023). Kelley School of Business Research Paper 2023-4419279, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4419279

Wenchang Zhang (Contact Author)

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business ( email )

Business 670
1309 E. Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47401
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.wenchangzhang.com/

Zhanzhi Zheng

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States

Ruomeng Cui

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ruomengcui.com

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
398
Abstract Views
1,439
Rank
139,358
PlumX Metrics