ChowNow, the customizable online ordering and payment platform for restaurants, today announced a partnership with UberRUSH, Uber's delivery and courier service. This collaboration, the first of its kind in the hot mobile food ordering and delivery space, allows ChowNow to instantly offer its clients a delivery option. It's a potential plug-and-play solution to restaurant delivery, "a pain point" for many restaurants according to Chris Webb, ChowNow's co-founder and CEO. Webb notes in a release, "At the flip of a switch [our restaurant clients will] be able to tap into a massive network of local delivery drivers and start fulfilling more delivery orders, more efficiently, while at the same time greatly reducing their costs. It's a brilliant opportunity for our clients, which is why we're so thrilled to partner with Uber."
Uber's idea is to use its existing staff and admittedly advanced software to connect some of these dots.
Why is food delivery a "pain point"? Not only is the labor itself costly and variable, but the logistics of organizing delivery involve first finding reliable personnel and then also training them; securing transportation; insuring workers and cars; and maintaining consistent communication. Most restaurants, especially restaurants with ambitions to expand beyond one or two locations, aren't equipped to handle these variables. Uber's idea with UberEats and now UberRush in partnership with ChowNow is to use its existing staff and admittedly advanced software to connect some of these dots.
So how does it work? Reached by phone, Webb says the user experience will be seamless: "When someone places an order through one of the mobile apps that is powered by our system or on the restaurant's website, the customer doesn't realize that Uber is the delivery partner, they don't realize who is delivering it. The order is sent to the restaurant, and at the same time the program connects with Uber to assign a nearby driver to pick up the food. The customer doesn't have to do anything special on their end." ChowNow's app connects with UberRUSH to assign a time for pick up and delivery. A delivery fee is tacked on and noted before the user confirms the order — "Pricing varies by city, but on average pricing will be $3 per pick up plus $3 per mile, including tip." — and the user can follow their food from pick-up to delivery. Uber takes their delivery fee and the restaurant gets paid for the food cost; there are no other fees for the customer and there's no invoice from Uber to the restaurants every month.
Pricing varies by city, but on average it will be $3 per pick up plus $3 per mile, including tip.
But will Uber's solution be one that will address concerns from both a restaurant's perspective's and a diner's? Webb says yes. "Uber is specifically training drivers just for this, they're going through extensive training in handling food, they've spent the last month or so training and they brought us in restaurant consultant Mike Ganino." Ganino's experience includes time as a corporate trainer at Chicago's Lettuce Entertain, Potbelly Sandwich Works, and Homemade Pizza Company. UberRush drivers who handle food will be separate from other Rush drivers.
UberRush drivers are not the same as Uber "people" drivers, according to Webb, so during surge pricing times, restaurant clients won't be competing for attention for a driver. Webb says, "On average, UberRUSH drivers will make more per mile when compared to UberX... Lack of drivers will not be an issue. Thousands of drivers have already been trained for UberRUSH, with more coming online every week."
Users can follow their food on the app from pick-up to delivery.
But besides their training and affiliation with Uber, these drivers aren't much different from any other driver. Their cars are the same cars your pizza delivery usually comes in. What Webb says makes a difference is the restaurant's ability, through ChowNow, to customize exactly how far they'll allow a driver to go: "If they know their burger and fries wilts and gets soggy after a delivery radius of 2 miles, they can set that radius."
Uber has racked up some controversial press in the past few months, but Webb says ChowNow's restaurant clients are excited about this new delivery offering. Have any expressed concern? "Not one," says Webb. "We've spoken to a number of well-reputed restaurant groups, and it's a limited group, but not one person has pushed back, and there are many requests to be added to the trial period." The delivery option will be available to select ChowNow clients as soon as this week. UberRUSH is currently available in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and that's where the new food delivery service in partnership with ChowNow will launch. Depending upon market size, ChowNow will begin trials with between five and 15 restaurants and plans to scale up from there.
UberRUSH's partnership with ChowNow is not affiliated with UberEats.
ChowNow's partnership with UberRUSH is just one more new creative solution to the exploding food delivery industry. Within the past year, Deliveroo, GrubHub, Postmates, and Caviar have greatly expanded their current networks. Uber launched UberEats; both Groupon and Amazon have dipped their toes into the space and even chef David Chang started a food delivery company.
Unlike competing apps like Seamless, Postmates, Caviar, and GrubHub, ChowNow offers customized mobile and web ordering applications for each restaurant partner. Users at home don't go to ChowNow to order, they go to individual restaurants' pages or apps — which can be a selling point or a deterrent depending on a users' perspective. ChowNow, which is based in LA, has the distinction of being the first food ordering and payment app to accept both Apple Pay and Google Wallet, in addition to credit and cash. Earlier this year, ChowNow raised $10 million in a round of new investment.