Is pizza the most innovative takeaway?

Lara Williams

Lara Williams, Editor-at-large

In the race to attract customers, takeaway pizza chains are going increasingly high-tech.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Brandon Rhoten, the chief marketing officer at Papa John’s, stated that the pizza restaurant was “much more close, I would argue, to Amazon than we are to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.”

Thinking of a takeaway pizza chain as an e-commerce company might seem far-fetched, but the latest trends support Rhoten’s claims.

Customers, especially millennials, increasingly prefer having food delivered to their door and, no longer content at dictating an order out over the phone, they’re picking apps such as Deliveroo and UberEats.

With Deliveroo and the likes making quality, high-street restaurants available to eat in the comfort of your own home, well-established chains such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John are no longer just competing against takeaways. To stay relevant, they’re using technology to make the customer experience as effortless and appealing as possible.

Served fresh off Facebook

Papa Johns started taking orders on Facebook in July. The ‘Start Order’ button appears on the chain’s Facebook page as well as Timeline’s ‘Order Food’ feature (currently only being tested in the US).

pizza papa johns Facebook button

Source: PYMNTS

The buttons make the buying decision even easier for consumers. Pizza can be ordered and paid for without even having to switch apps – the experience is seamless.

And hungry consumers like it. The chain saw hundreds of orders start rolling in almost immediately, and now 60% of its sales come from digital channels.

Oi Robot, order me a pizza.

Domino’s has also enabled Facebook ordering, but in a slightly different way – via a chatbot.

Chatting to Dom the pizza bot on Facebook or Twitter, users can explore the latest deals, create their own pizza and order – without once leaving Messenger.

The only thing you can’t do is pay – orders are cash-only – but with a payment feature for Messenger in development, that’ll probably change soon.

This isn’t only great for the user in terms of their experience – it’s never been easier to get a piping hot pepperoni delivered straight to your door – but for the apps too. Social media apps are fighting for your time, and if you can order your favourite food from within them – there’s less reason for you to leave.

But really, nowadays you don’t even need to use an app. By simply saying ‘Order me a pizza’ out loud, your Alexa or Google Home smart speaker can now do the rest.

The process is, again, effortless – you don’t even need to lift a finger. It also feels personal – like your device knew what you wanted without having to ask (which it did because you’ve told it before, but still).

However, this adds extra competition to the pizza chains. Alexa and Home will automatically turn to their controller’s favourite brand, so Domino’s and Papa Johns will have to work hard to keep brand loyalty.

Delightful Delivery

But how to do this? The edge could lie in the delivery experience – things as basic as your pizza arriving promptly to as innovative as features that ‘delight’.

The pizza tracker is a classic example. By showing you where your order is up to, it removes anxiety and makes the experience exciting – who doesn’t feel a thrill when “Out For Delivery” pops up?

pizza dominos wearables

Source: Domino’s

But Domino’s is going a step further. The chain has partnered with IFTTT – a platform providing ‘Applets’, or ways of connecting services in fun and useful ways.

Using these applets, you can set your connected porch lights to turn on automatically when your order is out for delivery, or set your phone to play a song when your order hits the oven.

These features make the most of pre-existing tech to enhance the whole takeaway experience, making customers more likely to go back for more.

pizza domino's tech

Source: Domino’s

What next?

Mike Nettles, chief information and digital officer at Papa John’s told Bloomberg: “You’ve got to be able to meet the customer on originally whatever device they happen to have in front of them.

“We want to meet the customers where they are when they’re thinking about food.”

As Forbes says: “All of these innovations make companies like Domino’s less about selling pizza and more about becoming a technology company delivering pizza.”

If there’s one thing for sure these innovations are going to keep coming, and pizza is never going to get any less delicious.

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