Deliveroo turns food delivery into a data-driven enterprise with Slack

“There are all these different pieces of custom functionality that we’ve been able to add to Slack. As a tech business, that’s really enticing. We’ve been able to take Slack and not just use it out of the box – but really make it our own.”

Will SpruntCIO, Deliveroo

When it rains, people order a takeaway. Most of us know this from first-hand experience but Deliveroo has the data to back it up. For the food delivery service, drizzly weather kicks off a cascade of actions as teams prepare for a spike in food orders – an alert pops up in Slack and stakeholders must decide whether to deploy more food delivery riders and how best to support restaurants fulfilling the orders.

It’s data-driven insights such as these that have allowed the London-based company to sprint ahead of the competition and rise to the top of Deloitte’s list of the UK’s fastest growing companies. Deliveroo has seen 650% revenue growth year on year and is currently valued at more than $4 billion. Every day, thousands of customers order whatever they’re craving from over 80,000 restaurants, from McDonald’s to local favourites.

This kind of rapid growth could easily lead to internal confusion and communication breakdowns. Chief Information Officer, Will Sprunt, explains that to keep 2,500 employees spread across a dozen countries aligned, “we’ve been a Slack company from the early days”. Whether teams use it to more effectively leverage data, connect with third-party vendors or build an inclusive culture, Slack is foundational to Deliveroo’s continued success. “As an engineering-focused, technology-led company, Slack is the tool that people love and respect”, Sprunt says.

“The thing that keeps us connected the most is Slack. It’s a very immediate and straightforward method of communication, and really the only channel that people prefer and enjoy using.”

Will SpruntCIO, Deliveroo

Acting on data-driven insights with Slack

Deliveroo depends on data but useful insights can easily get lost in a sea of incoming information. So Deliveroo relies on Slack to help call out important trends and inflection points. Technology teams at the company have developed bots that detect actionable data in everything from restaurant orders and consumer preferences to rider positions and weather patterns. The bots then alert stakeholders in channel, saving employees the time and headache of parsing the data manually. “Slack makes it more proactive and easy for humans to act on the data without having to spend time looking at the data”, Sprunt says.

For Hugo Darwood, a senior automation engineer, that data offers a starting point for introducing new efficiencies. As the founder of Deliveroo’s Business Automation Engineering Team, his primary objective is to “take any digital, non-creative action and automate it”. Slack plays an essential role in this work. The ability to integrate tools directly in Slack “really sets the platform ahead of traditional business email”, Darwood says. “We get our business context all in one place. We know what’s happening with our tools, our team and our roadmap, all from one location”.

Darwood started with the low-hanging, high-impact fruit: with three distinct user groups (restaurants, riders and customers), Deliveroo employees can find themselves overwhelmed with new business terminology. So Darwood’s team built the Whatis bot, “a living dictionary for all the jargon that flies around”, including acronyms, he says. The bot also helps onboard new employees and exposes gaps in existing institutional knowledge. “With Slack bots, it’s often not the problem that you’re directly solving that’s really valuable – it’s the way people interact with them”, Darwood explains. “It reveals how you need to grow or change as an organisation”.

As the head of corporate account management for the UK and Ireland, Marion De Najar relies on a Slack integration with the business intelligence platform Looker to highlight data points that need attention. When a new client places an order for the first time or an account manager has a great revenue week or an abnormal order comes through, her team receives an automated ping in Slack. “The team can focus their attention on what really matters, rather than being overwhelmed with a lot of data points and not really knowing where to look”, she says. “They’ve gained a lot of efficiency because they know where to focus their efforts”.

With everything centralised in Slack, teams don’t have to chase information or parse email threads with little context. “You feel the difference between a team operating in a single communication channel versus one operating in communication silos”, Sprunt says. With Slack, employees can leverage data more effectively, allowing Deliveroo to scale that much faster.

“With Slack, you really get a quantum leap in how much data you can monitor and how many actions you can take each day. Automating processes was a real game changer for us.”

Hugo DarwoodSenior Automation Engineer, Deliveroo

Using channels to build relationships with external partners

Deliveroo manages hundreds of relationships with both corporate clients and third-party service providers, such as couriers and customer support agents. While these external partners don’t need access to sensitive internal information, Sprunt wants them to be included in Deliveroo’s culture. ‘To encourage a sense of community, we set up a Slack channel, which brings those teams closer together,’ he explains. ‘It makes people who are theoretically on a contract actually feel like part of our team.’ Deliveroo currently has over 200 channels that they use for collaborating with 13 different partners.

De Najar leverages channels to handle orders for Deliveroo’s corporate clients in the UK and Ireland. After choosing their food, clients place their order in a dedicated channel and note any dietary restrictions, often using emoji (a green leaf indicates a vegan preference and a nut signals nut allergies). De Najar then switches over to delivery logistics, connecting with a transport service in a different channel. The transport company receives a ping from a Slack bot when the order’s in and adds an emoji to acknowledge it. ‘Thanks to emojis, we know the exact status of the order, rather than having to rely on humans – and human error,’ De Najar says.

[product_ui id="4700424281360" description="deliveroo-orders" /]

Before Slack, a complex corporate request would trigger a barrage of emails. ‘Clients would often text or ring us 20 times for 20 different changes. And the more changes that you make on the emails, the more likely you are to miss important information,’ she says. It was also down to a single stakeholder to relay the message, increasing the margin for error. ‘Thanks to channels, everyone can tell us exactly what they want. It’s a real game changer,’ De Najar says.

Carmen Suen, a global project associate at Deliveroo, manages a team focused on restaurant support and onboarding. With new restaurants joining Deliveroo each week, she relies on channels to communicate quickly and efficiently with her vendor team in the Philippines. She uses a different channel for each of Deliveroo’s markets to communicate specific updates and process changes on a regional basis. When support agents have questions or need to escalate an issue, they do it in the regional channel. This gives Suen visibility into her team’s performance, despite being thousands of miles away. ‘I want to know what’s going on with all the markets,’ she says. ‘With channels, I can just catch up on the conversations and what happened, rather than me implementing something and following up with the vendors all the time.’

“We communicate all day in both team and private chats. Slack is very much the key to making sure everyone is aware of what’s going on.”

Marion De NajarHead of Corporate Account Management UK & IE, Deliveroo

Fostering a cohesive culture across a rapidly growing company

Deliveroo understands that a unified internal culture leads to more cohesive work – and a better product. Slack keeps teams aligned and fosters a culture of transparency, even as employees move a mile a minute. Integrations with product management software Trello, Google Calendar and Google Docs provide a connected ecosystem that makes global collaboration easy. “The combination of Slack and Google Docs has proved very powerful”, Sprunt says. As soon as you comment in a doc, it pops up in Slack and everyone works together to get it across the finish line. “That instantaneous communication goes back and forth and you can see how both things work in tandem. It’s a great method of collaboration”, he says.

For Erika Moreno Sierra, a senior software engineer at Deliveroo, Slack is essential for cross-functional coordination. “If I have a question for the delivery team or for the restaurants team, I can just go to their public Slack channel and ask a question and they will answer”, she says. And Slack usage goes beyond transactional responses. A suite of custom Deliveroo emoji and slash commands fosters a fun, GIF-obsessed culture across 12 countries. “It feels like a tool that exists to build a community, not just to broadcast information”, Sprunt says.

To keep pace with its ambitious growth goals, Deliveroo has made Slack its own, customising the platform to evolve as quickly as it does. Employees are empowered to act on data, streamline workflows and tackle challenges together – satisfying the appetites of millions of customers worldwide.