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Tech Tracker: Third-party delivery giants keep adding new bells and whistles

Now you can order Uber Eats more easily at airports and Grubhub at sports stadiums


As pushback against third-party delivery continues, with more companies opting to cut out the middleman and try off-premises offerings on their own terms, third-party delivery companies have begun offering new features like tiered pricing. This month, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash all announced new bells and whistles like new ways to order at stadiums and airports, search page ads, and searching for food via emoji.

In more technology news this month, Sam Nazarian’s C3 secured a $10 million investment, and technology partnerships abound: Wendy’s is now partnering with Google Cloud, and SevenRooms has linked up with Olo.

Tech Tracker rounds up what’s happening in the technology sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, vendors, digital platforms, and third-party delivery companies. Here’s what you need to know:

Uber Eats launches searchable pickup maps with emojis; order-ahead at airports

As demand for convenience grows, now Uber Eats lets customers find their food cravings by typing emojis into new searchable pickup maps. Though these don’t appear to be available for delivery yet, Uber Eats is targeting international travelers who might not know the word for “burger” or “pizza,” but can use the respective universal emoji symbols for what they’re searching for.

Earlier this month, Uber Eats also launched order-ahead pickup functionality for airports. Customers can order their food and pay in-app from a participating airport vendor, then roll in and grab their food before hitting the runway.

Grubhub launches sports stadium order pickup

In September, Grubhub announced a partnership with the Washington Football Team that lets football fans order food from 20 participating FedEx Field vendors via the Grubhub app on their phone — or via QR code on the back of the seat in front of them — use mobile pay and then skip the concessions lines to pick up their food. At this time, Grubhub will not deliver hot dogs and beer directly to customers’ seats (we imagine that might present some technical challenges).

Grubhub says that after this was implemented, average concessions wait times for fans were cut in half. Grubhub has not stated whether they’d bring this partnership to other stadiums.

DoorDash launches sponsored listings

DoorDash now offers self-serve sponsored listings for restaurant operators. DoorDash says that operators will only pay only for orders placed via their ad and not for ad clicks or impressions. Sponsored listings will appear higher on search page results for guests using the DoorDash search function.

Operators can set up their own ad campaigns via the Merchant Portal and click through under the “Grow Your Sales” tab.

“From day one our goal has been to empower local economies by providing access to opportunity,” Toby Espinosa, vice president, DoorDash Ads said in a statement. “[…] Sponsored Listings and our suite of ad solutions will help highlight relevant content to consumers at the point of purchase and in turn help brands flourish.”

C3 nabs $10 million investment

Food technology platform, C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) is growing again—this time with a $10 million investment from Swiss-based firm Lurra Capital AG. The partnership will support C3’s growing digital infrastructure of 40+ brands and 250+ digital kitchens, and help expand their presence internationally.

"Lurra believes in the evolution of ghost kitchens and strategic partnerships with gamers and content creators,” Lurra Capital's founder and CEO, Tyron Birkmeir said in a statement.  C3 has its finger on the pulse of Gen Z consumers who are impacting the industry and consumer trends of today."

With this partnership, C3 will build its presence with new platform partnerships like Chowly in the U.S. and other international delivery platforms in new markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Wendy’s is partnering with Google Cloud

Wendy’s is now partnering with Google Cloud to improve customer experience with access to customer data and artificial intelligence. With data-driven insights from Google, Wendy’s will be able to lean into customer personalization more.

The company has stated that future features that could come out of this partnership include improving business analytics and reporting, creating new ways of ordering food through mobile and other touchless technology, and creating a next-gen store experience that runs partially on AI.

"We are committed to providing our customers with the greatest experience possible, and our partnership with Google Cloud is raising the bar by enabling us to match the experience to their preferences," Kevin Vasconi, CIO of Wendy's said in a statement. "We believe Google Cloud's AI and data analytics solutions will enable Wendy's to innovate ways to create fast, frictionless, and fun interactions that redefine the way customers visit and enjoy our restaurants."

SevenRooms joins forces with Olo

Hospitality tech giants SevenRooms and Olo announced a partnership this month, allowing customers of both platforms to merge their ordering channels and guest data more seamlessly.

Operators can capture their guest data using Olo technology and build guest profiles using SevenRooms, allowing for a more buildable personalized digital customer experience. Operators will be able to identify guest habits and preferences as part of their digital profile and be able to build marketing campaigns around those specific guests.

“This partnership facilitates better operational efficiency and online data capture, ultimately helping operators optimize the profitability of their delivery and takeout business while strengthening customer relationships,” CEO and founder of SevenRooms, Joel Montaniel, said in a statement.

Reef acquires last-mile company Bond

Last mile delivery company Bond has now become the operating system of growing ghost kitchen giant Reef. With this partnership, Reef will be able to “ensure faster delivery” to their delivery customers as an “end-to-end solution” for digital orders for restaurants and other types of services.

“This acquisition will unlock the full potential that we saw so clearly in that partnership allowing us to expand our integration with eCommerce platforms and provide a turnkey solution for brands to deliver their products within minutes to customers,” Reef senior vice president of product, Philippe Saint-Just, said in a statement.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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