Just as competitors start to pull ahead, Uber Eats makes waves with an acquisition announcement that speaks volumes about its priorities and future strategy.
— Kristen Hawley
Restaurant food delivery by drone may command the headlines — at least when Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says Uber is experimenting with the futuristic technology, it does. But beyond the drone buzz, quieter technical integrations will make the biggest change to the delivery business as we know it.
Today, Uber Eats announced it has acquired orderTalk, a Dallas-based restaurant technology company with technology and expertise related to point of sale (POS) integrations, according to the company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Uber Eats head of business development, Liz Meyerdirk, explained the company’s two-fold strategy behind the interest in POS integrations. One, she said, restaurants are asking for ways to reduce errors, and an employee manually entering orders from an Eats-connected iPad into the restaurant’s system leaves room for plenty of human error. Two, technical integrations better manage restaurant workflow. Instead of requiring a middleman, orders are quickly fed to the kitchen display monitor or ticketing system.
“I’m proud of everything our team has built these past few years,” said orderTalk CEO Patrick Eldon. “We’re excited to leverage our point-of-sale expertise to make Uber Eats an even better partner for restaurants by helping them easily integrate online orders and grow their business.”
A Hot Topic
Point of sale integration has become a hot topic for delivery services as they race to sign more restaurant partners, from independent locations to the large-scale chain restaurant deals that grab headlines. (Uber Eats currently has an exclusive deal to be McDonald’s sole delivery partner at over 10,000 locations.)
Uber Eats works with over 100,000 restaurants in 200 cities and 35 countries, so POS integration on a large scale is no easy feat. orderTalk, founded in 1998 and launched as a software as a service company in 2004, integrates with more than 10 of the leading POS providers and most major payment processing vendors, according to Eldon.
Meyerdirk said that the majority of the company’s employees will stay on for now. “We’ll retain orderTalk’s point of sale technology as well as several engineers who will relocate to Uber’s New York office,” she said. “With their engineering talent and the group of people that we’re acquiring, I think we’ll also be able to supercharge our own point of sale integration strategy,” she added.
Uber Eats plans to wind down other orderTalk features, namely, supporting the ability for restaurants to accept online orders, over the next year.
Meyerdirk wouldn’t share a timeline on when to expect news of any official integrations from Uber Eats. “I would say we are addressing a number of pain points that currently exist in the industry, which is why you’re seeing a lot of activity and interest in point of sale integration,” she said.
Top Uber Eats competitor Grubhub already integrates with several leading point of sale systems, and CEO Matt Maloney has cited the company’s technology as a main reason it was able to land an exclusive partnership with Yum Brands’ KFC and Taco Bell restaurants.
“We view ourselves as technology partners to our restaurants,” said Meyerdirk. ‘We’d love to continue hearing from our restaurant partners. We’re listening hard and asking, what are the pain points? What are the problems and how do we solve them with technology? I think point of sale is just the first and the beginning of what we want to do in terms of being technology partners to our restaurants.”