Digital Commerce: Delivering Disruption

E-commerce is affecting more than CPG sales—it’s changing the face of foodservice

The convenience-store industry has been watching the implications of digital commerce—be it a passing curiosity or a sweat-inducing threat—for some time. Amazon and Walmart are certainly the big players promoting the potential for change, but the e-commerce arena is also overflowing with startups attempting to turn the impulse purchase into a digital act.

But consumer packaged goods aren’t the only products being disrupted by e-commerce. The foodservice industry is also experiencing an influx of players trying to make mealtime more convenient with online ordering and delivery.

“The trend in this country is convenience. So I think delivery plays very strongly,” Dunkin’ Brands chairman and CEO Nigel Travis, whose company has joined Starbucks, McDonald’s and Chipotle in announcing plans to test food delivery, told CNBC in June. “I think the next few years you’re going to see us get more and more into delivery.”

“The No. 1 requested thing we get through social media is Taco Bell delivery,” Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol told Fortune earlier this year. “If we can deliver Taco Bell, we’ll satisfy a lot of young people in America, that’s for sure.”

We’ll know soon enough if Niccol is right: In early July, Taco Bell began testing delivery in 90 cities in Texas and California through DoorDash, an on-demand delivery service with Uber-like logistics that is just finding its legs nationally. DoorDash “dashers” deliver food from partner restaurants much as a driver would for Uber—when they want to.

On the c-store front, 7-Eleven has teamed with urban delivery service Postmates in San Francisco and Austin, Texas, to bring CPG and foodservice items to people’s doors. The company expects to expand the service to other cities with a high number of 7-Eleven stores, including Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“7-Eleven’s founder, Joe C. Thompson Jr., used to say 7-Eleven’s mission was to ‘give customers what they want, when and where they want it,’ ” said Raja Doddala, 7-Eleven’s vice president of innovation and omnichannel strategy, in a company release. “Through the modern-day technology that Postmates provides, we can fulfill that promise in a way we haven’t done before.”


Amount of restaurant sales that are generated through takeout, delivery and catering--Source: National Restaurant Association