A Chatbot that can order you PIZZA!

Domino’s Success Story: How a struggling Pizza chain embraced technology to win with consumers.

The restaurant industry segment has started to struggle in 2016. While sales are not down, they are growing at a smaller pace and are expected to decline in the fourth quarter. Angst about the election and future of our country has partly been to blame and their is talk about an industry-wide slowdown into 2017. One chain however, has defied these trends and has been able to post incredible year over year gains. That chain is Domino’s Pizza.

Domino’s historically has been known as a value brand, entering into price wars with competitive offerings such as their 5-5-5 deal. However in recent years, they have made a point of embracing technology to remove friction for guests in the ordering process and ensure order accuracy. In Q3 of 2016, Domino’s posted a 16.9% revenue gain year over year and a 13% sales gain, on it’s way to it’s 22nd straight quarter with positive sales growth. That is quite remarkable in what is an extremely competitive industry.

So how has Domino’s done this? Mostly through becoming a digital leader in the space, with over 45% of sales coming from digital channels. Let’s take a look at some technology areas where they have met the consumer where they are and improved guest experience.

POINT OF SALE: First, Domino’s worked with (read: forced) franchisees to all get on one Point of Sale System (for those that don’t know the POS system is the computer powered register that drives all ordering functions and communicates with back of house computer systems to get orders to the kitchens, financials to accounting, etc.). While this may not seem like a major move, this was something that built the basis for all of the technology that came after. Without a unified system, it becomes much harder to build a wide-ranging e-commerce platform. And swaying multiple franchisees with multiple opinions is not always an easy task!

3030869-inline-i-3-dominos-tech-companyDESKTOP ORDERING: Domino’s was one of the first companies to offer online ordering functionality through their website in 2010, which unbelievably was very new at the time (hard to believe I would have to talk to someone to order pizza at 3am when I was a sophomore in college – that must have been awful). Their integration of the tracker bar was also a revolutionary step that gave the guest more insight into their order status and cut down on the number of calls from people checking on their order. The best part of this? The functionality was already in the POS system for the store so all they had to do was make the information guest facing as well. They also allowed people to create “pizza profiles” that allowed them to save prior orders for easy re-ordering (again, how did this not happen earlier??).

MOBILE ORDERING: Domino’s has also been a fast mover into the mobile space, launching it’s mobile app that allowed guests to order from their phone similarly to desktop or through a popular personal Siri-like assistant by the name of “Dom.” As unecessary as Dom may seem, the company has seen hundreds of thousands of pizza orders made through the voice activated ordering service.

EASY ORDER: Focusing on ease of order and quick re-ordering of favorites, Domino’s launched the easy order platform of digital ordering options. These channels all meant to convey supreme convenience to the guest, with advertising featuring Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland ordering via text message emojis, Eva Longoria ordering via her Samsung Smart TV, Richard Sherman ordering with just at Tweet to Domino’s and Avenger’s Clark Gregg ordering via smartwatch. The company can even let you order via new Ford car models.

Dominos Android Wear

CHAT BOTS: The latest innovation from Domino’s is a chat bot integration with Facebook Messenger that let’s you order directly through the platform. Currently, this functionality only allows the easy order pre-sets, but with advances in technology could advance to include custom orders that are interpreted directly by the bot. In addition, this opens up options to group ordering. Imagine a thread on Facebook Messenger when you all discuss what you want to order, with different members of the group all contribute pieces that need to be added. Once you click to let you know the bot that you have all inputted what is needed, the bot can translate all of that to an order directly into Domino’s POS system. The pizza possibilities are endless!

Domino’s has totaled over 15 different ways that you can order without talking directly to a human being. This remarkable effort is due to the company’s embrace of digital technology and their self-ascribed description of a “technology company that sells pizza.” This approach has allowed them to build out a digital team (almost a third of their corporate office staff are on the digital group), developing a “fail-fast” approach that allows them to encourage innovation, and focusing all these efforts on making the experience better for all guests.

As some who works in food marketing, Domino’s is truly an example of best in class digital. They understand guest needs extremely well and are early adopters of technology, developing credibility before their competitors have a chance to react. It is really interesting to see the approach they have taken and the clear dividends they have reaped as a result.

pizzaprezI leave you with one final thought. A candidate we all can believe in…

8 comments

  1. Great post!! First and foremost I am a loyal fan and consumer of Domino’s pizza. I know there are haters out there that think that Domino’s pizza isn’t good, but I personally love the garlic crust and the extra cheesy consistency. Furthermore, I agree that their digital platform has given them an advantage in the market space. I am a TA for the CSOM Intro to Business Ethics Course, Portico. There are three TA’s in my class and we were given $150 to spend on food to throw our kids a “welcome party” to BC. However, in addition to being TA’s we are also busy students. Therefore, we decided to go with the easiest and most convenient option we could think of and we all agreed that this was Domino’s. I ordered the pizza on my phone on my way home from class, got to my mod, pulled out my laptop, and tracked it from my computer while doing homework. Forty-five minutes later, TA-DA! There was my order. I was able to get everything I needed done and also get my freshman food for their party! There are 8 TA classes in our section and 7 of us used Domino’s for this reason! I did not know that there were 15 methods that Domino had besides calling! I think that is incredible! Also 22 quarters with positive growth sale is extrodinary! I defiantly think their embracing of tech has a lot to do with their success! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Austin Ellis · ·

    As I ordered Dominos for lunch today, via the app, I felt obligated to comment. Great post! The Dominos App has really been a game changer for them as revenue shows, because it it so much easier to order, pay, and live track the progress of your pizza. Its not only great when you are pressed for time, thanks to their quick delivery, but also it encourages impulse buying. With the addition of a chatbot that can order your saved pizzas, it will take almost no effort at all for the average hungry student (myself) to order a pizza that I probably will not finish. Great strategy by Dominos.

  3. sandytanny · ·

    Awesome post! Though Domino’s is certainly not the absolute best pizza chain around, I find myself constantly choosing Dominos because it is so easy and convenient to order. I think a large part is because of the live tracker that was introduced years ago on their website and app that I still use today. It sets expectations so you know exactly when your food is being prepared and when to expect your food to arrive. I wish more companies would take advantage of this system because it makes waiting for your food so much less painful, and anxious (especially in those instances when your food is taking forever to arrive). Though, I myself have not used chatbots or emojis to order my pizza yet, I think it’s very exciting that Dominos is leading the way in this food ordering revolution because this the direction that the industry is inevitable heading towards.

  4. fernaneq4 · ·

    I love love love this. Very relatable post! My family and I will order dominoes and it’s the game of watching it progress online. It reminds me of when they first started the 30 minute campaign where people would time their delivery men and women and get a free pizza if it took longer than 30 minutes. Sadly, the campaign ended because people were rushing and it caused car accidents and so on. But now I can order pizza through an emoji on twitter? That’s just wild. As a millennial, I hate calling in to order so it has been so nice to have an app and be able to monitor when it’s going to get through. The less the human interaction the better! Great read!

  5. We talked a lot about Dominos and their brand value and success in my Marketing Principles class last Fall. I really feel that have flourished in the Pizza Delivery market. I had NO idea about the new Chat Bot, that is used with Facebook Messenger. I find this extremely enlightening. It really brings a new twist to online ordering. I am wondering what their success rate with this new device is and if there has been any slip ups. I wonder if other companies will copy them and if this will revolutionize online ordering? Does this make society lazy?

  6. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great post! I wrote about something similar a few weeks back and it is crazy how much technology Dominos has embraced. Their new philosophy is “more coders than cooks.” Like many other commenters have said, although Dominos may not have the best quality product, its ease of ordering is a huge draw. I know I hate the whole ordeal of ordering food, putting in my payment information, and speculating when it will arrive. Dominos has expedited the whole process and made it incredibly simple! While their share price now sits at $161, it was the $3 stock back in 2008 that incited this whole revolution. They took 1 step back to take 53 steps forward. Seeing this huge spike, I hope other food establishments (struggling or not) look at Dominos for inspiration and incorporate tech into their companies as well.

  7. Nice post. I just did a blog on chatbots a month or so ago with a CEO of a startup chatbot company. I had no idea they were becoming so powerful.

  8. Personally, I’m more of a local pizza shop kind of gal, but it’s a no-brainer that Dominos is basically the go-to option for pizza for college students, especially at BC. From the few times I’ve ordered at Dominos compared to my local mom-and-pop, it was definitely a lot more efficient and quicker with their easy-to-order desktop set-up. I never knew group chatbots were a thing though at Dominos so definitely something to try out with friends later!

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