This week, Google announced a partnership with digital ordering platform Olo that will let restaurants offer pickup orders through Google Search and Maps, and Google Assistant without incurring high commission fees from third-party services or losing valuable customer data.
Restaurants use Olo to simplify the process of taking delivery and pickup orders from multiple third-party channels. Via Olo’s Rails technology, a restaurant can consolidate all those orders into a single ticket stream that goes directly through the business’ main POS system, eliminating the need for a human to manually input that information.
Previously, restaurants integrating with Google had to go through third-party services like Postmates, DoorDash, and Delivery.com. Users ordering food through Google would select meals via Maps, Search or Assistant, then be redirected to one of those third-party services to complete the transaction. While convenient for the user, restaurants still had to pay the high commission fees third-party services charge per order.
According to a press release sent to The Spoon, the new Google/Olo partnership directly integrates Rails into Google Search, Maps, and Assistant. That means Olo’s network of restaurants, which numbers over 70,000 at this point, can process orders via these channels without having to go through a third-party site. Restaurants not only get to keep the money they would have otherwise spent on commission fees, they also get to keep their customers’ data, which is one of the most valuable assets in the restaurant industry these days.
Currently, the deal applies only to pickup orders. Olo clients Checker’s and Portillo’s Hot Dogs are two chains working initially involved in this new partnership.
The deal is also one more push from Google towards becoming a major player in the food tech world, particularly in restaurants. Besides integrations with Olo and third-party delivery services, the search giant has also added menu recognition features to Google Lens, so a user can point their phone at a menu to highlight popular dishes, and offers a “popular dishes” feature to Maps. In May, Google created a virtual phone agent for small businesses like restaurants and gotten approval to make public drone deliveries. Google also has a delivery program in place with Olo’s rival platform, ChowNow.
For now, Google’s expansion across the restaurant business remains purely digital. Even so, one can’t help but wonder if the company would eventually explore brick-and-mortar initiatives, as well. For example, Google already runs and partners with coworking spaces; it could start doing a similar program for shared kitchens.
Regardless of whether something like that actually happens, Google is sure to keep pushing to become a vital player of the restaurant network.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated the Google/Olo deal applied to restaurant delivery orders.