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Square’s Food Delivery Service Wants To Pick Up Your Meals Too

Jack Dorsey’s merchant services company has long coveted the restaurant space, but competition to win over stomachs is growing fierce.

Square’s Food Delivery Service Wants To Pick Up Your Meals Too
[Photo: courtesy of Caviar] [Photo: courtesy of Caviar]

Square is getting deeper into the restaurant and delivery space with a food new pickup service. Caviar, the company’s food delivery network, lets restaurants with no food transportation infrastructure hook up with management tools and a fleet of delivery men and women. Caviar Pickup will offer these restaurants the ability to let customers order carryout service in advance and “skip the line” when they retrieve it at the restaurant. The new program comes out of Square’s acquisition of a pickup business owned by OrderAhead—an on-demand logistics startup founded in 2012.

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At first, Caviar Pickup will only be available to diners in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon.

Square has long coveted the restaurant business. The company got its start as a tool for accepting credit cards in cafes and food trucks, but breaking into the larger restaurant industry proved difficult. It canceled its own order ahead app, Square Order, in 2015. In the last couple of years, Square has focused on building out a series of business tools for small and medium businesses, allowing them to track inventory, manage their employees, and handle payroll. But many of these tools have focused on retail. The last restaurant-targeted service Square rolled out was Open Tickets, which allows bars to keep a running tab without having to close it out.

But restaurants could be a renewed focus for Square. Product engineering lead Gokul Rajaram says the company has been incrementally rolling out more tools for restaurants, which can help them manage the influx of orders coming from outside the establishments. They also provide analytics that show restaurant owners where orders are coming from. Rajaram says restaurants have used this information to open up second locations.

A Square spokesperson also said that Square is working on building out more robust tools for restaurants as a way of bringing them into its point-of-sale ecosystem.

Delivery is a tough business these days with competition from more legacy players like Seamless/GrubHub and newer players like UberEats, not to mention the trove of meal delivery services like Munchery and Maple that are trying to win over the stomachs of lunchtime workers everywhere. But Square’s ability to create more deeply integrated tools inside the restaurants network may prove to be a boon in this space. Lots of players can deliver your food for you, but can they can’t all claim to help you both grow and run your business.

About the author

Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company who covers gig economy platforms, contract workers, and the future of jobs.

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