This is a view of Foodstuff which launched in Edinburgh today. That means there are two things to get out of the way straight off the bat.
Update 18th Feb 2022: This review asks about £2. That turns out to be a tip which I thiiink I remember adding, I’m happy with the explanation and pleased Foodstuff got in touch to explain.
First up, as a general (but demonstrably breakable) rule, I try not to review things after only one experience. I’ve only used Foodstuff once, but I only get this one chance to do a day one review. So I’m taking it.
Secondly, this is a review and not a shill. I hate that I need to say it, but I’ve not been paid, persuaded, or even communicated to by Foodstuff. They don’t know I’m a geek with a blog, and I bought and received my order like anyone else. Damn this “influencer” bubble.
That said (secondly part b) I am putting Foodstuff’s “refer a friend and both of you get £10” links into this review. Anyone who has a Foodstuff account has the same options. Oh yes, Edinburgh, prepare yourself for the incoming wave of Facebook recommendations for £10 chasing Foodstuff fans.
The good stuff
There’s bad stuff coming later. I did a day one order and didn’t expect it to go without a hitch. Would you?
I like the Foodstuff concept. The company says they work only with independent local restaurants. The website says, “The only chains we’re into are bike chains”.
There are only cyclists delivering food for Foodstuff. It’s peddle-power only food delivery, environmentally friendly order online for food or whatever you want to call it.
Foodstuff also tries to be goodstuff, insisting that they try and taste (or at least carefully vet) restaurants before signing up.
I found their app, which I used to order, easy to use. I’m a veteran of their (presumably) arch-rival, and, well, it’s very similar. In fact, the “food on the way” push to my Android almost tricked me into thinking it was Deliveroo for a brief second.
I think you can also order via the web, and maybe I’ll try that next.
Importantly, and unlike JustEat or your local restaurant (probably) with their own in-house solution (Flipdish or similar), this also means you have got an incoming rider tracking system.
I find this hugely helpful. When I lived several stories up, I would use this feature to make sure I was down the stairs to greet the Deliveroo driver and save them the steps. I’ve moved, these face-to-face greetings, even as mask-to-mask greetings are a little trickier today, but the reassuring of food on the way and that the rider isn’t lost is still important to me.
The day one selection of indies is good. In my area, and to name just a few, Mana Poke, Grams, Harmonium, Harajuku, Rose Theatre Cafe and The Bearded Baker.
I imagine this will ebb and flow as these independent restaurants see whether or not Foodstuff works for me. Success will bring more.
I went with Smoke & Soul from Fierce Beer and picked the Buffalo Chicken dirty fries. It was great.
What’s more? I didn’t see a whiff of a minimum order demand, but I didn’t look around.
Apparently, there was a problem with my order, though. I knew because my peddle-powered food-delivering essential worker texted to me to apologise for the delay I hadn’t noticed, was on it, and the food was on the way.
The result of the problem was food arriving freshly re-made (kudos to Smoke & Soul @ Fierce Beer for that – taking the decision to ditch my original meal to make a new one) and, oh, 15 or so minutes longer than the estimated delivery time.
I’ve waited for 30, 40, and even 60 minutes longer than rival services have predicted without even a whiff of a comment. Maybe this is why rider tracking is so important to me.
So, yeah, I ordered on day one, just at the start of the dinner rush, and there was a glitch, but if it’s true that you can judge a company by how well it does under pressure, we should praise Foodstuff, Sean on the bike and Smoke & Soul.
The bad stuff
I’ve already explained the delivery glitch. I think, but can’t confirm, what happened was one rider being assigned, then not, resulting in enough of a deal for the Smoke & Soul to worry (thank you) about the food quality and start their process again.
It’s hardly bad stuff.
I was going to do a lunch order, and I didn’t because Smoke & Soul wasn’t open, and those few places had delivery estimates above 80 minutes.
I’m prepared to wait for the duration of a cup of tea to save the planet, and cyclists delivering food means longer transit times than cars. I should have had, but had not, expected it. It means ordering early, that’s all.
As it happens, when I made my dinner order instead, the wait time for all the locations had pretty much halved. I’m only putting this as “bad stuff” because I worry that this means delivery times will be unpredictable.
This isn’t badstuff per se, just a note of caution, but I’ve talked to Edinburgh indie eateries which have been courted by Foodstuff. Maybe that “taste test” requirement comes later, you know; an awkward bit where Foodstuff’s sales team persuades the venue to sign up and then say, “Oh, one last thing…” before sending the meal inspectors around. Maybe that happens.
I do have some confusion over the bill. You can see my email insert below. I paid £12.95 for the large chicken dirty fries, and the other item is a delivery fee of £3.80. My charged total is £18.75, and I make the billable total out at £16.75. It’s not a biggie, but I wonder what the other £2 is? A credit card fee? It would make sense.
Update 18th Feb 2022: Mystery solved; it was a tip and that makes sense. Tip your riders!
I tried to recreate the order via the website to see if that would explain the £2 difference, and it doesn’t and confuses me further by saying the Service fee is free. Is Service for the Restaurant and Delivery for the cyclist?
I guess the £2 could still be a payment processing fee.
The nosy stuff
I believe Deliveroo take about 20% to 30%. They don’t officially say.
Foodstuff charges 24% unless you’re exclusive. If you’re prepared to work only with them as a restaurant and not be available on UberEats, Just Eat, etc., the commission/order drops to 12%. There’s a £50 monthly fee on top.
Foodstuff guarantees National living wage and holiday (more than minimum) and matches supply with demand to offer flexible, no-obligation shifts. Perhaps the shift prediction will be the platform’s secret hot sauce, its weakness and why I saw delivery times drop by half between day one lunch and day one dinner.
Great experience, Smoke & Soul did Foodstuff proud, and while Foodstuff had a wobble or two, I’m definitely coming back.