Baskin-Robbins Takes on Messy Job of U.S. Ice Cream Delivery

Updated on
  • More than 600 locations now bringing desserts to customers
  • Chain to compete head on with McDonald’s melty treats

It sounds messy, but Baskin-Robbins says it can do it -- deliver ice cream in the heat of summer to customers’ front doors.

More than 600 Baskin-Robbins U.S. stores are now delivering scoops of ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes and cakes through DoorDash Inc. The chain, owned by Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., had previously tested the service in about 60 locations in Los Angeles and Chicago. Now, stores are on board in 22 cities, including New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Seattle.

“Convenience and immediate gratification -- they are huge customer needs,” said Carol Austin, vice president of marketing at Baskin-Robbins. “Customers today want what they want, when they want it.”

While many chains have moved to deliver burgers, chicken and fries, delivering ice cream has remained largely elusive. DoorDash is using insulated carriers to ensure the treats arrive intact. The only difference is that sundaes won’t have whipped cream, which dissolved during the delivery time, the company found during trial runs. Baskin-Robbins stores that tested delivery also showed sales increases, Austin said. She declined to provide specific figures.

Dunkin’ shares may get a boost from higher Baskin-Robbins sales. Through Wednesday’s close, the stock had climbed 5.6 percent this year, compared to a 16 percent gain for the S&P 500 Restaurants Index. Dunkin’ shares fell 0.6 percent to $55.07 Thursday.

McDonald’s Corp. is another fast-food brand bringing desserts to diners. The Big Mac seller said earlier this year that it was partnering with Uber Technologies Inc. to offer delivery across the U.S. McDonald’s delivery service includes sundaes, milkshakes and McFlurry desserts, though their ice cream is the soft-serve variety rather than hard scoops.

Patrons must use the DoorDash mobile app or website to place orders for Baskin-Robbins products, and there are delivery fees that start at $2.99 and average about $5. Baskin-Robbins will look to expand the service to all of its 2,500 U.S. locations as DoorDash grows. It may also consider working with other third-party companies, Austin said.

“We are interested in doing whatever we can to expand it,” she said. “We are working to get it to everyone.”

(Updates with shares in fifth paragraph, delivery fees in penultimate paragraph.)
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