In order to identify key “obstaclesto save time during the moment of the delivery (per my previous post, the moment of the delivery is the process that starts at the time when the deliveryman receives the package to be delivered) I have been talking to quite a few restaurant staff in the Washington Square area (e.g. owners, managers, waitresses, delivery guys, etc.). I have also talked to doormen (at home, and at the office), and to consumers (friends and colleagues).

I decided to follow Scott’s suggestion: stay away from ethnographic studies. You don’t have the time and resources to conduct proper ethnography research of your subject of study. Also, Scott advised about a potential low degree of participation from my interviewees. He was right.


  • Challenge: Few responses to in-person interviews.
  • Assumptions: Delivery guys might be hired “under the table”. Some may not have the proper documentation required to work. This might explain (1) their perceived fear of this being an interrogatory process rather than scholarly work, and (2) their expressed fear of how the information is going to be used (by whom? Who will get access to it?).

Note: In my final project, I won’t reveal the identities of the people I interviewed. (In fact, I was only able to capture a few first names!). Also, staying away from ethnography research won’t imply staying away from riding my bike to support some of the key findings (i.e. obstacles to time savings) 🙂

QUESTIONNAIRE (This is the questionnaire that I originally developed. However, I had to adapt my questions while conducting the interviews since participation was low).


Different questions will be asked to a different set of interviewees (restaurant owners, delivery guys, end-consumers, doormen, transit guards).

A mix of quantitative and qualitative interviews will be conducted.

Note about end- consumers: Sample will encompass both male and female, who live in New York, and have order food delivery at least once in the past month. Questions to be asked to colleagues at work, and to friends over email. Answers might be biased: 25-40 year olds, white collar. Tech savvy. Own at least two Internet connected devices (computer and cell phone). Access to the Web from multiple sources (work, school, home, and on-the-go). All genders, ethnicities and nationalities.

  1. How often do you order a food delivery service? (Days per week).
  2. Does the expected deliver-time affect your decision? (Yes/No. Explain). Do you mind to wait in order to get the food you want?
  3. What’s the method you prefer for ordering food? (Phone. Restaurant website. Online food delivery aggregator. Mobile app. Other).
  4. In most cases, what’s the gender of the delivery person? (Male. Female)
  5. In most cases, is she/he American? (Always. Sometimes. Hardly ever. Never. I don’t know).

Questions to be asked to restaurant owners/managers (of restaurants that offer delivery services):

  1. What are the methods your restaurant uses to take orders? (Phone calls. Email. Website. Partnerships with online food delivery system aggregators. Walk-ins. Other.)
  2. How do you define the delivery area? (Explain).
  3. How the delivery service has benefited from the latest developments in communication technologies (e.g. Internet, mobile)? (Explain).
  4. Does timesaving matter to you? If yes, how do you save time in the process?
  5. Could you please explain the process/circuit, from the moment the order is originated, to the actual delivery?
  6. Do you hire messengers from all genders? (Yes. No. Explain).
  7. How the volume of orders is distributed throughout the days? If you have to map the trajectories of these deliveries, do these patterns change depending on the time of the day/day of the week?

Questions to be asked to the messengers:

  1. Could you please describe your “delivery toolkit”? (e.g. means of transportation, use of communication technologies and old forms of communications to record name, address, and to get directions, etc.).
  2. Could you please describe the different steps and tasks involved in your job? (How do you receive the orders? How do you decide what routes to take? Do you follow a fixed process? For example, what to do if the recipient is not at home).
  3. Have you been asked to deliver your food faster? What are the decisions you make in order to save time?
  4. What are the risks and dangers of your job?