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    Subway Starts Delivering at 9,000 Restaurants

  • The massive deal is across four top providers.

    Subway
    Subway's new Chipotle Cheesesteak launched in September.

    Subway struck one of the biggest delivery deals in foodservice, the company announced Friday. And, fittingly, it took four companies to get it done.

    Subway is partnering with UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates to bring nationwide delivery to 9,000 restaurants, the company said, with more planned for the coming months.

    “Delivery is more than just giving our guests a way to order the sandwiches they want,” said Michael Lang, Subway’s senior director of global convenience, in a statement. “We want to connect with consumers and give them the convenience of choice, whether it’s in a customized, made-to-order sandwich or in how they get their meals. Amazing partners like UberEats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Postmates give us the opportunity to reach guests wherever they are and whenever they get a Subway craving.”

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    Subway is touting the service through a new landing page on its site, subway.com/delivers. Guests can enter their location and check availability.

    Subway didn’t provide further details on each deal individually, only to break out the capabilities of the specific providers. UberEats, for example, experienced a 167 percent increase in sandwich orders over the last year. It works with more than 100,000 large and small restaurants across 293 cities in 35 countries. UberEats is also the engine behind McDonald’s rapid delivery rollout.

    To put into perspective the size of Subway’s deal, McDonald’s delivery hit 5,000 stateside locations this past July. It ballooned from tests at 200 stores to the number in less than two years. Globally, there are currently 13,000-plus across 60 markets on six continents. In some markets, it represents as much as 10 percent of McDonald’s sales. CEO Steve Easterbrook said last quarter that delivery orders were resulting in orders about double the size of a standard average check.

    Relatively speaking, Subway having this massive of a delivery deal fits with its equally enormous unit count. At the end of 2017, Subway had 25,908 domestic restaurants (all franchised). That was a decline of 866 from the prior year. McDonald’s was the country’s next biggest chain at 14,036 units (13,194 franchised).

    As for GrubHub, the company YUM! Brands took a $200 million stake in this past February, it works with more than 85,000 restaurants in over 1,600 U.S. cities and London.

    DoorDash, which is notably powering Chipotle (it partnered to bring delivery to more than 1,500 total restaurants) and Wendy’s (40 percent of the North American restaurants were offering the service in Q2, up from 25 percent at the end of Q1) delivery efforts, it had restaurants in 1,200-plus cities across the U.S. and Canada. The company also fuels Burger King and Popeyes delivery platforms, among others.

    Postmates is a pioneer in the space and specializes in offering delivery from restaurants previously only available offline. It covers 385 U.S. cities, as well as Mexico. Postmates has long helped with Chipotle’s delivery.

    Subway has been busy lately. From a menu standpoint, it won’t just be delivering sandwiches, either. Wraps as well as salads will be in the fold.

    Subway launched a new Chipotle Cheesesteak on Sunflower Crunch Bread in September to twist its classic Steak & Cheese sandwich. This was part of “The Subway Steak Collection,” which also includes a Chipotle Southwest Steak & Cheese Signature Wrap.

    Subway continues to refresh its system to the “Fresh Forward Design.” Since July of last year, Subway rolled out the headliner décor update in 465 locations. The company said gross profit and traffic were up 11 and 8 percent, respectively, in the new locations compared to old ones. With Fresh Forward designs at relocated restaurants versus remodels, Subway saw an even steeper hike in sales and traffic—about 18 percent and 15 percent. The company expects to complete the system in a multi-year process.

    In August, Subway also lifted the lid on its “Fresh Now” program. It was piloted in San Diego, California, and is now in about 500 U.S. locations. Subway expects the entire U.S. system to feature the Fresh Now updates by May 2019.

    Features include: Signature Flavor Stations,” which showcase new sauces and flavorings, including a signature Sub Spice blend, Mustard Seed Spread, Herbs & Lemon Seasoning, Subway Signature Herb Garlic Oil, Provencal Herbs, and fresh cracked sea salt and black pepper.

    Guests also see new “Fresh Pour Beverage Stations” offering elevated options such as Watermelon Agua Fresca, Passion Fruit Agua Fresca, Homestyle Lemonade, Green Tea, and Unsweetened Black Tea.

    Employees have new uniforms inspired by the fresh menu, and there are bold menu boards designed with personalization in mind.

    Also, Subway launched what it called the largest loyalty program in quick-service history this past February. Subway MyWay Rewards aimed to help cultivate the customizable experience for guests, as well as pulse offers and rewards to inspire repeat visits. It offers customers surprise treats and tokens that eventually mature into dollars.