Slice, an online ordering platform designed to help small pizzerias compete with large chains, has raised $43 million in a series C round of funding led by KKR.
The cash injection comes as U.S. states continue to ease lockdown measures that were introduced in March to combat the COVID-19 crisis — while expecting brick-and-mortar stores to adapt their operations to a “new normal.” This partial lifting of restrictions emphasizes social distancing through increased support for deliveries and pickups and opens the door to platforms that help businesses go online.
Founded out of New York in 2009, Slice provides all the technological infrastructure, payment systems, customer service, and marketing to help restaurants capitalize on the $46 billion U.S. pizza market. While Slice offers its own branded app that lets customers search for pizzerias in their area, it also helps outlets set up individual websites to process orders.
A dedicated dashboard gives restaurants data about all their orders, with additional tools for managing promo codes, tweaking menus, setting opening hours, and so on.
The company charges a set $2.25 commission plus 4% processing fee per order, compared with the 20% or more other ordering platforms may take. This can work out to quite a substantial difference if the average price of an order is over $30. Slice also makes money from additional add-on services, including a new Slice Delivery service that’s available in beta just now for some outlets that currently offer pickup only.
“Because of COVID-19, the restaurant landscape is rapidly evolving,” a Slice spokesperson told VentureBeat. “Local pizzerias with delivery are seeing 3 times the orders than pickup-only shops. We’re looking to roll this [Slice Delivery] out broadly in the very near future.”
Slice had previously raised around $30 million, including a $15 million tranche a year ago. According to the company’s founder and CEO Ilir Sela, Slice has seen a “significant surge in demand” across its platform due to the COVID-19 crisis. As restrictions shift in many states, Slice is well-financed to target pizzerias eager to get business back up and running. Indeed, Slice currently claims more than 12,000 pizzeria customers across the U.S., and it plans to expand its coverage to more restaurants domestically and internationally.
Social distancing measures enforced by the lockdown have led to a sizable uptick in online purchasing, and it’s unclear whether this trend will continue once life eventually returns to normal. However, there’s no guarantee when that will be, and sit-down restaurants could remain closed or heavily restricted for quite a while.
Uber Eats has sought to capitalize on this situation through a number of new initiatives, including enabling telephone orders for those without a smartphone, expanding support for corporate customers, and making it easier for people to place orders for friends and family. Meanwhile, payment processing giant Square last week launched a new online checkout product that makes it easy for anyone to accept payments online, and Google is now enabling retailers to advertise if they offer curbside pickups.