So, Are We Exclusive? McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wingstop Say No

A look at why restaurant brands are ditching exclusive food delivery platform partnerships.
March 27, 2024
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McDonald's meal next to Uber Eats delivery bag

Are we exclusive? One of the most anxiety-inducing questions for dating is also a critical one for brands and their relationships with food delivery platforms.

Between 2010 and 2020, several notable brands, such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wingstop, signed exclusive partnerships with food delivery platforms.

Food delivery platforms competed for these deals because they wanted to win market share and were willing to sacrifice short-term profitability.

Restaurant brands opted for exclusivity for several reasons:

  • Lower commissions: As low as 1-5% per sale instead of 15-30% per sale
  • Marketing: More visibility on the platform
  • Simplification: Customers can go to one platform instead of shopping rates between different platforms
  • Innovation: Test new programs (e.g., different delivery models) and features (e.g., increase conversion on their landing page, etc.)

But, more recently, brands have ditched exclusivity:

  • McDonald’s, originally exclusive with Uber Eats, expanded to GrubHub and DoorDash
  • Starbucks, originally exclusive with Uber Eats, expanded to DoorDash
  • Wingstop, originally exclusive with DoorDash, expanded to Uber Eats and GrubHub

Why did they switch their restaurant delivery platform partnerships strategy?

Customers are delivery-platform loyal, per Restaurant Dive. By signing an exclusive contract, restaurant brands cut off access to customers who prefer certain delivery platforms over others. 

Some anecdotal evidence supports the business case of using multiple delivery platforms over signing an exclusive partnership. Amid a sales slide, Wingstop expanded its food delivery platform partnerships from just DoorDash to include Uber Eats and reinvigorated growth, per Restaurant Business.

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