In a Year of Lockdown, Singapore's Food Delivery Apps May Have Cost Users 9% to 20% Extra Per Order

Ordering food for delivery was more popular than ever in 2020 - but users may be surprised to know how much extra they've spent on delivery app fees. We researched three of the most popular services in Singapore and found unexpected differences in the costs of delivery.
COVID-19 has made food delivery a difficult but necessary service for thousands in Singapore.

To learn more about the costs that diners face when ordering food to their homes, ValueChampion analyzed the price of test orders from three of the most popular food delivery apps in Singapore: GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo. We found that each app has different benefits and disadvantages for consumers, including not only the total cost of ordering but also promotional offers and the selection of open restaurants.

Key Findings:

  • In about half of our test orders, FoodPanda charged the lowest fees on a typical delivery order. FoodPanda fees typically accounted for less than 9% of the total bill, compared to 17% at Deliveroo and over 20% on GrabFood.
  • However, Deliveroo's frequent promotional discounts eliminated its delivery fee on the other half of our orders, making that app the cheapest option whenever the promo was active.
  • That said, Deliveroo was also the most likely app to charge a small order fee, with an average small order fee of S$5.50. When active, these fees greatly increased the cost of delivery.
  • The number of restaurants and their opening hours were different on each app, but our testers observed that GrabFood often had the best variety of options.

FoodPanda and Deliveroo Cheaper While GrabFood Proves Costly

One of the first things we saw was that restaurants almost always offered the same menu prices across the three delivery apps. However, the addition of app fees led to significant differences in cost depending on which app we used to order an entree. These extra charges included:

  • Delivery fee: S$0.99 - $S8.00
  • Platform/Service fee: S$0.00 - S$0.20
  • Small order fee: S$0.25 - S$20.57

Because platform fees were consistently very low and small order fees only appeared occasionally, we chose to focus on delivery fees. When we analyzed orders where no promotions were offered, Foodpanda had the lowest average delivery fee of S$2.94, compared to S$3.04 at Deliveroo and S$3.76 at GrabFood. This included 9 of the 20 different entrees we ordered.

How Much Do Delivery Apps Charge Per Order?

Avg Fee TotalFee Ratio
DeliverooS$3.5217%
FoodpandaS$2.649%
GrabFoodS$4.3921%
Fee Ratio equals average fee total divided by average total cost of orders we tested.

Despite FoodPanda's clear advantage in terms of its low fee ratio, Deliveroo did find ways to compete closely on cost thanks to its many promotions. As for GrabFood, it consistently charged the highest average delivery fee regardless of promotions being available.

Overall, we also noticed that delivery app fees are actually highest for smaller orders. Only seven orders had app fee totals over $S5, and six of them involved a food order costing less than S$15.

Deliveroo More Likely to Offer Promotions and Free Delivery

Deliveroo offered free delivery promotions more frequently than either Foodpanda or GrabFood. Out of the 11 orders that received promotions, Deliveroo accounted for nine of those orders, and all nine promotions included free delivery.

When we look at orders with no promotions, Foodpanda came out slightly ahead on delivery fees with an average of S$2.94. Without the promos, Deliveroo's average delivery fee increases to S$3.04 and GrabFood remains the highest at S$3.76.

Delivery AppOrders with PromosNo Promo Orders
DeliverooS$0.00S$3.04
FoodpandaS$2.21S$2.94
GrabFoodS$4.54S$3.76

Solo Diners Should Check Multiple Apps to Avoid Small Order Fees

Small order fees can be expensive, especially when compared to the lower price of an individual meal. Some apps charge small order fees on orders that are below a certain dollar amount, which varies by restaurant. Deliveroo was the most expensive in this area, charging most of the small order fees we saw in our testing.

Graph of small order fees in Singapore on Deliveroo, FoodPanda and GrabFood
Graph of small order fees in Singapore on Deliveroo, FoodPanda and GrabFood

Although we only saw small order fees on 9 of the 60 orders we tested, the actual fee amount was unpredictable. The small order fees we recorded ran from S$0.25 to over S$20.00, with an average of S$3.95. Out of the three apps we used, Deliveroo charged the highest and most frequent small order fees.

GrabFood and Foodpanda did not charge small order fees as often as Deliveroo, and when they did, they were under S$1.00. Small order fees have the biggest impact on individual orders, making it even more expensive for a single person to order food. This makes it important for solo diners to check multiple delivery apps or consider a different restaurant to avoid small order fees.

Why small order fees? Restaurants usually choose the threshold for small order fees, which can be different on each delivery app. They may choose to do this when an app recommends it or if they get a high volume of small orders, which reduces their profitability.

While Expensive, GrabFood Appears to Offer More Food Choices

In our experiment, it took trial and error to find restaurants available on all three delivery apps. A restaurant would often only be available on one app, or in the case of chain restaurants, not every location would be on every app. Several times, we observed that GrabFood tended to have restaurants we couldn’t find as active on the other apps.

What’s more interesting is that for restaurants available on all three apps, operating hours varied. A restaurant would be available to order from on one app but closed on a different one. This can be due to a restaurant favoring a certain app over another (and not using that app) or not updating their operating hours on all apps. If the restaurant you’re trying to order from is closed on one app, it doesn’t hurt to check a different app.

Delivery Times and Food Costs Are Similar

Our study didn't find major differences in the cost of actual menu items or estimated delivery times across delivery apps. When food costs differed, it was generally because of a promotional discount for the specific restaurant. Average estimated delivery times were similar across platforms, ranging from 29 minutes to 31 minutes.

Estimated Delivery TimeAvg Entree Cost
Deliveroo31 minutesS$26.14
Foodpanda30 minutesS$27.07
GrabFood32 minutesS$26.23

Bottom Line? Shop Around Before You Order

Savvy consumers will understand why it makes sense to shop around when it comes to food delivery. Our data suggests that as a rule, you should check the restaurant you want on multiple apps in order to avoid small order fees and check whether Deliveroo is running any free delivery promotions. If you want something that's not on FoodPanda or Deliveroo, you may have to spend more on GrabFood to get it.

Restaurants can also choose which apps to use and how to use them, which affects both their open hours and menu prices. Comparing the same menu across apps can save you a few dollars on each order and get you access to the restaurant you want.

If you order delivery often, using certain credit cards can help you save money on food delivery. Some cards have introductory offers that include vouchers for food delivery apps, like the OCBC 365 Card which offers a S$100 voucher for GrabFood.

Other cards offer ongoing discounts when you use a particular delivery app or statement rebates for online food delivery. For example, the POSB Everyday Card offers an 8% rebate when you use it to pay for online food delivery and dining.

Methodology

We simulated 60 orders from 20 restaurants in Singapore across GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo. Using each app, we selected the same order from the same restaurant and compared the resulting fees, totals, promotions and estimated delivery times.

The test orders were simulated over the course of multiple weeks at various times, including both lunch and dinner. We ordered from a variety of restaurants and ordered quantities ranging from 1 to 4 individual servings. Some of the menu items we chose for the testing included dumplings, Korean BBQ, pizza, Mexican, Indian, and poke.

Besides the cost of the food itself, most delivery apps charge variable delivery fees, service fees and if applicable, small order fees.

Chris Moon

Chris is a Product Manager for ValueChampion with years of experience in addressing critical questions about insurance and banking products through financial analysis. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications. Prior to joining ValueChampion, Chris worked as a product manager at ValuePenguin analysing banking and insurance products in the US.

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