Waze Takes You to Dunkin' Donuts - and Now Lets You Order as Well

Navigation application owned by Google expands into e-commerce market by introducing option to order from the fast-food chain before showing you the way there.

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A worker displays a batch of fresh donuts for a photograph during the opening of the new Dunkin' Donuts Inc. restaurant in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.
A worker displays a batch of fresh donuts for a photograph during the opening of the new Dunkin' Donuts Inc. restaurant in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.Credit: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

Waze's traffic navigation app already shows ads prodding drivers to swing by fast-food joints like Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell. Now it's adding a new item to its menu - the ability to place orders at some shops.

On Tuesday, the Google-owned app will start letting drivers purchase coffee and other items from Dunkin' Donuts for pickup along their way. It's the first time that Waze has offered this kind of "order ahead" option, but unlikely to be the last.

If all goes well with the Dunkin' Donuts test, Waze plans to team up with other merchants so its millions of users can order pizza, reserve parking spaces, fill prescriptions and even buy groceries without having to open another app on their phones.

"It could be almost anything that a driver could order ahead and have ready for pick up," said Jordan Grossman, head of Waze's business partnerships in North America.

Doughnuts to go

Waze won't earn a commission on the Dunkin' Donuts sales made in its app. Instead, Dunkin' Donuts has agreed to increase the amount it spends advertising on Waze. Neither Waze nor Dunkin' Donuts would disclose the size of the increase.

Dunkin' Donuts has its own app, which until now was the only way to order ahead at the chain's stores. But working with Waze made sense, said Scott Hudler, chief digital officer for Dunkin' Brands. "Waze involves the ritualistic behavior of driving to work on your daily commute, and we are a brand built on a ritual, too," he said.

Drivers using Waze's "order ahead" option will need the Dunkin' Donuts app as well, although they won't have to open it. They'll also need to be registered with Dunkin' Donuts customer loyalty program.

Charting a course into commerce

The push into e-commerce is Waze's latest step beyond its original purpose of recommending the fastest way to drive someplace.

Waze also offers a carpooling feature that pays drivers to pick up passengers headed in the same direction. It's currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area; Sacramento, California; and Israel.

Waze will also offer the carpooling option in Brazil later this year. While still in its infancy, that service could siphon passengers away from ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

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