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Delivery Rat Race Update: Seamless Hires Its Own Delivery Drivers In NYC

It's a play to add restaurants without their own delivery to the site

John Moore/Getty Images

In the ongoing battle for New Yorker's delivery dollars, the Seamless/GrubHub conglomerate has been quietly using its own delivery people in New York for the past few months. Most restaurants listed on Seamless employ their own delivery people, while newcomers to the market like UberEats and Postmates run their own network of food messengers. But now, Seamless has its own driver network, too, according to company spokeswoman Sandra Glading. And in a bid to put even more restaurants on the site, they're primarily targeting restaurants that previously did not offer delivery, she says.

Seamless has been nationally testing the program, called "turnkey delivery service," since 2014. It only hit New York in the last few months and started with Brooklyn and Queens. Users won't be able to tell if their favorite restaurants are participating — they're listed just like any other restaurant is, Glading says. The company declined to say how many restaurants are using the service but mentioned that popular spots like Mighty Quinn's, No. 7 North, Glady's, The Original Ramen Burger, and Cemitas el Tigre participate.

To sign up, restaurants must pay a commission for using the delivery service in addition to the "marketing commission" that every restaurant pays Seamless. The company has said the delivery commission is about 14 percent. The average "marketing commission" is about 15 percent, but with some commissions being as high as 30 percent, a restaurant could end up paying a hefty portion of their delivery sales to the company. By comparison, companies like UberEats and DoorDash have a flat commission that tops out at about 30 percent. (Seamless says all the restaurants currently using the delivery service are paying less than 30 percent commission with both fees combined.)

Still, Seamless/GrubHub has what the younger start-ups don't have: about 6.7 million existing users. The company says that one restaurant, Aita Trattoria in Crown Heights, doubled its order volume in two months by listing with Seamless and using the delivery service. Overall Seamless gross food sales in New York increased by 57 percent in February after the turnkey launch, the company says, while the number of listed restaurants went up by 32 percent.

The company, which has been targeting the outer boroughs, is also rapidly pitching itself to restaurants in Manhattan. But it's a crowded market out there, with Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar, and UberEats — not to mention delivery-only restaurants like Maple, Ando, and Green Summit — playing the game. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.