ChowNow vs DoorDash: What’s the Difference?

chownow vs doordash

ChowNow and DoorDash are two prominent players in the food delivery industry, but they cater to different needs and audiences. While both platforms aim to facilitate food delivery from restaurants to customers, they operate under different business models and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a comprehensive comparison of ChowNow and DoorDash, focusing on their differences in business models, customer experience, pricing, services, and more.

Business Models

Restaurant-Centric Approach: ChowNow is primarily designed to serve the needs of restaurants. It provides them with the tools to take orders directly through their own websites and apps, bypassing third-party platforms. This model emphasizes empowering restaurants to manage their own online ordering systems without having to pay hefty commissions to third-party aggregators.

Subscription-Based: ChowNow operates on a subscription model, where restaurants pay a flat fee to use the service. This fee covers the development and maintenance of the restaurant’s online ordering system, including a branded mobile app and website integration. This model contrasts with the commission-based fees that are common with many other food delivery services.

Customization and Branding: Restaurants have the flexibility to customize their online ordering platforms, ensuring that their branding remains consistent. This can help maintain customer loyalty and provide a seamless experience that feels like an extension of the restaurant’s existing service.


Marketplace Model: DoorDash operates as a third-party delivery platform, acting as an intermediary between restaurants and customers. It aggregates multiple restaurants on its platform, allowing customers to browse a variety of options, place orders, and have their food delivered by DoorDash drivers.

Commission-Based: DoorDash charges restaurants a commission on each order placed through its platform. This commission can range from 15% to 30%, depending on the level of service and delivery options chosen by the restaurant. This fee structure is common among many third-party delivery services.

Delivery Network: DoorDash employs a large network of delivery drivers, known as Dashers, to handle the logistics of food delivery. This allows restaurants to outsource the delivery process entirely, relying on DoorDash to ensure timely and efficient service to customers.

Customer Experience

Direct Ordering: For customers, ordering through ChowNow typically means going directly to the restaurant’s website or app. This can lead to a more personalized experience, as the ordering platform is branded and controlled by the restaurant. Customers might also find that restaurants offer exclusive deals or promotions through their own platforms that are not available on third-party sites.

Limited Exposure: Since ChowNow does not operate as a marketplace, customers might not discover new restaurants as easily. They need to already know about the restaurant and visit its website or app to place an order.

Consistent Pricing: Because ChowNow does not charge commissions on individual orders, restaurants are less likely to inflate menu prices to cover additional costs. This can lead to more consistent and potentially lower prices for customers.


Variety and Convenience: DoorDash offers customers the convenience of browsing a wide variety of restaurants in one place. This makes it easy for customers to compare options, read reviews, and place orders from multiple restaurants without having to navigate different websites or apps.

Higher Fees: Customers might encounter higher fees when ordering through DoorDash. These can include delivery fees, service fees, and small order fees, which can add up and make the overall cost higher compared to ordering directly from a restaurant.

Promotions and Memberships: DoorDash offers various promotions and a subscription service called DashPass. DashPass provides benefits such as reduced delivery fees and lower service charges for a monthly fee. This can make frequent ordering more affordable for customers who use the service regularly.

Services and Features

Marketing Tools: ChowNow provides restaurants with marketing tools to help drive traffic to their own ordering platforms. These tools can include email marketing, social media integration, and analytics to track customer behavior and order trends.

Customer Data Ownership: Restaurants using ChowNow retain ownership of their customer data. This allows them to build a direct relationship with their customers and use the data for personalized marketing and loyalty programs.

Order Management: ChowNow offers robust order management features, including integration with existing point-of-sale (POS) systems. This ensures that orders are seamlessly incorporated into the restaurant’s workflow, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency.


Delivery Logistics: DoorDash handles all aspects of delivery logistics, from order pickup to customer delivery. This can be a significant advantage for restaurants that do not have the resources to manage their own delivery operations.

Large Customer Base: By being part of DoorDash’s marketplace, restaurants can gain exposure to a larger customer base. This can be particularly beneficial for smaller or newer restaurants looking to increase their visibility and attract new customers.

Advanced Technology: DoorDash invests heavily in technology to optimize delivery routes, reduce wait times, and improve the overall customer experience. This includes features like real-time tracking, contactless delivery options, and customer support.


Flat Subscription Fee: Restaurants pay a flat monthly or annual fee to use ChowNow’s services. This fee covers the creation and maintenance of the online ordering system, including any custom branding and integration with existing systems. ChowNow’s fees range from from $129 to $199/month based on monthly or annual billing.

No Commission Fees: Since ChowNow does not charge commission on individual orders, restaurants can retain a higher percentage of their revenue. This can be particularly advantageous for high-volume restaurants.


Commission Fees: DoorDash charges a commission on each order placed through its platform. This commission can vary but is typically between 15% and 30% of the order total. This fee can be a significant expense for restaurants, especially those operating on thin margins.

Additional Fees: In addition to commission fees, DoorDash may charge restaurants for additional services such as marketing and promotions. Customers also face various fees, including delivery fees and service fees, which can increase the overall cost of using the platform.

Pros and Cons


  • Lower Costs for Restaurants: The flat subscription fee model can be more cost-effective than commission-based fees, particularly for high-volume restaurants.
  • Brand Control: Restaurants maintain control over their branding and customer experience.
  • Customer Data Ownership: Restaurants have access to customer data, allowing for personalized marketing and loyalty programs.


  • Limited Discovery: Customers need to know about the restaurant and visit its website or app to place an order, which can limit exposure to new customers.
  • No Delivery Network: Restaurants must handle their own delivery logistics or partner with a third-party delivery service.


  • Large Customer Base: Being part of DoorDash’s marketplace can increase a restaurant’s visibility and attract new customers.
  • Convenience: DoorDash handles all aspects of delivery, making it easy for restaurants to offer delivery services without the need for in-house logistics.
  • Advanced Technology: DoorDash’s technology optimizes delivery routes and improves the overall customer experience.


  • Higher Costs: Commission fees and additional charges can be significant, impacting a restaurant’s profitability.
  • Less Control: Restaurants have less control over the customer experience and may not have access to customer data.
  • Customer Fees: Customers might face higher fees, which can discourage them from using the platform.

Choosing between ChowNow and DoorDash depends largely on a restaurant’s specific needs and business strategy. ChowNow is ideal for restaurants looking to maintain control over their branding, customer experience, and data while avoiding high commission fees. It is particularly suited for restaurants with an existing customer base that they can drive to their own ordering platforms.

DoorDash, on the other hand, is well-suited for restaurants that want to increase their visibility and attract new customers through a large marketplace. It offers the convenience of outsourced delivery logistics, which can be a significant advantage for restaurants without the resources to manage their own delivery operations.

For customers, the choice between using a direct ordering platform like ChowNow or a marketplace like DoorDash comes down to convenience versus cost. DoorDash offers the convenience of browsing multiple restaurants and placing orders through a single platform, but this convenience comes with higher fees. Ordering directly through a restaurant’s ChowNow-powered platform might result in lower costs and a more personalized experience, but it requires customers to know where to go.

Ultimately, both platforms have their unique advantages and cater to different aspects of the food delivery ecosystem. Restaurants and customers alike should consider their priorities and preferences when deciding which platform to use.

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