Uber launches pilot to deliver equipment to Chicago restaurants

Dive Brief:

  • Uber is partnering with foodservice equipment distributor Parts Town to provide two-hour, last-mile delivery to operators and service technicians in the Chicago market, according to a press release
  • The partnership is the restaurant industry’s first between a parts distributor and ride-sharing provider to offer replacement parts for delivery, the release claims.
  • If the program goes well, expansion beyond Chicago is possible. Parts Town has more than 90 locations across North America, and sells original manufacturer equipment and parts through its digital marketplace, Parts In Town.

Dive Insight:

Swift delivery of parts could prevent sales losses at restaurants suffering from equipment malfunctions or damage. Quantifying the cost of restaurant equipment failures is difficult, but the cost of downtime can quickly add up. Four hours of downtime at a restaurant that is usually open 12 hours a day means the loss of one-third of a day’s sales, according to XtraChef by Toast.

Broken equipment also requires shifting operational processes, labor reallocation — for instance if employees have to move food from a cooler to another location — and potential reputational damage if items are unavailable.

Parts Town allows customers to order online from local service companies, dealers and distributors and pick up within an hour. The company ships in-stock orders the same day until 9 p.m. EST. Parts Town’s marketplace, which was fully launched in 2020, processes nearly 10,000 orders per month and is experiencing double-digit sales growth month-to-month, according to the company.

This offering is the latest in a growing line of products and services Uber has added to diversify its portfolio. The company debuted nationwide food shipping in June and is ramping up its grocery service. It has also jumped into pet store, convenience store, flower and alcohol delivery.

As Uber continues expanding its services, it’s likely to try and improve its value offering for operators, whether by helping restaurants integrate virtual brands into their operations, or by cultivating restaurateurs as a customer base with programs like the Parts Town partnership.

The agreement also offers opportunities for Uber drivers to increase income.

“This partnership won’t just benefit the foodservice industry and its customers, but brings new earning opportunities to the tens of thousands of Chicago-area drives who help people, meals, groceries — and now mission-critical replacement parts — arrive at their destination,” Meghan Musbach, general manager for Uber Eats in the Midwest said in a statement.

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