The Fall and Rise of Domino’s

I went to college out in Western Massachusetts, in a town that didn’t exactly embrace the concept of “college town”. So, if you were looking for a snack after midnight, and you didn’t have a car to hit up the 24 hour McDonalds, you were limited to your friendly local Domino’s – open and delivering until 3AM. So, long story short, I’ve eaten enough Domino’s pizza for a life time. And it’s just never going to be my first choice in delivery pizza.

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But when I was recently checking out the Netflix show “Ugly Delicious”, chef David Chang professed his love for an occasional Domino’s pizza. And I was SHOCKED. How. And why?

Which led me to discover that Domino’s stock is up 5000% since 2008. How? The company overhauled its recipe, culled failing franchisees, and “aggressively embraced digital technology to make ordering more efficient, customer friendly and maybe even cool.”

That tech boost has allowed customers to order Domino’s pizza and more off their revamped menu on their app, on their website, through Alexa, and on social media – I’m sure no one forgets their big campaign to “tweet pizza”. They have a website purely to show the many ways to order a Domino’s pizza:

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How else is Domino’s using emerging tech?

Cake by the ocean, and pizza by the beach?

Working to spread the reach of Domino’s, the company announced “Domino’s Hotspots”. An addition to the options of delivery and carry out, Hotspots will allow customers to choose a public spot to have their pizza deliver to including public beach parking lots, covered shelters at parks, golf courses, hospitals, and more. This not only allows you to get your pizza without leaving the beach, but creates an opportunity for those without a traditional address or one outside of the delivery radius, to access Domino’s pizza. (PS the Plex and the stadium are both Domino’s Hotspots!)

 

AI in the Kitchen

Domino’s has employed a camera to photograph your pizza as quality control and is using AI to determine if the pizza is up to snuff. It will analyze an even spread of ingredients, correct temperature, and if it looks like it is supposed to – based on data. The ultimate goal? Quality control and preventing lesser quality pies from going out the door. The AI is a check on the handmade pizza, and the photo of a rejected pizza is sent to the customer to explain why it was remade, and potentially, delayed. This innovation has sped up the quality check process while maintaining each pizza is handmade.

 

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Oh, and let’s not forget your Domino’s Wedding Registry. I’ll leave it at that.

 

Dennis Maloney, Domino’s chief digital officer told USA Today “We used to be a pizza company that sells online, and we needed to become an e-commerce company that sells pizza”. I think that this is true for ALL companies. Technology might have only been one piece of the pie (pun intended) it was a big reason the company continues to grow and serve their customers as well as they can. With the rise of online platforms and apps to procure any possible food, Domino’s needs to make it easy to get pizza, and it needs to be the best product possible, or customers will go quickly elsewhere. I mean, unless they have to spend that “Married But Chill” gift card off the registry.

In a city like Boston, we have options. But has the ease of ordering made Domino’s a bigger option for everyone? Any Domino’s lovers? or haters? And with plenty of other companies migrating a lot of business online, is Domino’s reaaaally an E-commerce company that sells pizza?

17 comments

  1. kseniapekhtere1 · ·

    That’s a very interesting post! Actually just yesterday I ordered a Domino’s pizza and noted how easy the process was through their app and how customizable the pizza was. The only issue I have with the app is that it does not update the order status as quickly as the pizza is actually prepared. So often when the app tells you your pizza is ready it’s been seating out there for some time. I had no idea about that there were so many ways to order Domino’s and the fact that they are using AI is pretty mind-blowing. However, given how convenient their app is I wonder if many people actually order Domino’s through Messenger and Twitter and if these features add value for the company. But overall, it’s impressive how Domino’s was able to revamp its reputation through technology.

  2. mpduplesmba · ·

    I have never ordered from Domino’s so I was not aware of their big technology push until a classmate presented on them last year. He told a hilarious story about how the bars at his college were on the other side of town and there was a nearby Domino’s. At the end of a night at the bars he would order a pizza for delivery to his apartment, use the app to follow the status of the pizza being prepared, and as it was about to come out of the oven he would walk over to the Domino’s to hitch a ride home with the delivery driver. Domino’s corporate probably wouldn’t be happy to hear that story, but genius on his part!
    My fiance is currently next to me filling up our registry on Zola. I just mentioned we should check out the Domino’s wedding registry…she was not amused.

    1. murphycobc · ·

      I am with your fiance on this, and I would note, I searched some generic last names in the Wedding Registry website, and there are people have actual registries!! Is that not insane?!

  3. This is an interesting post. Most people would not think about a company like Domino’s when it comes to a rise in technology. There is such a prevelent change happening with Domino’s compared to other chain pizza companies such as Papa Johns. On top of all the technology you mentioned in your post, there is a big relevance that pizza has in society all of a sudden. At least within the average news feed for Millennials and/or Gen X, there is at least one meme or picture one will scroll past that relates to the love of pizza. With that sudden increased awareness for the love of pizza, Dominos also rose and became a leader for making this available for its consumers.

  4. oliverhowe14 · ·

    I never used to order Domino’s because my dad hated it when I was growing up. But since I’ve been at BC people always push me to get Domino’s with them instead of other, better pizza. Although Domino’s is still (in my opinion) lower quality pizza with lower quality ingredients, it does have some perks that make it a great choice. Ever since they overhauled the recipes, the pizza doesn’t taste like cardboard anymore. But what is more important is the live pizza tracker. The problem with ordering pizza from, say, Pino’s, is that you really have no clue when it’ll make it there. It could be 20 minutes, or it could be an hour. The pizza tracker lets you know exactly when the pizza will be there. Domino’s has done a great job incorporating tech into a company that you would not necessarily think would need to be that high tech.

  5. profgarbusm · ·

    Kudos on a creative use of a business to showcase the value of technology for modern businesses. I have to say that I’m actually a huge Dominos fan, they do a great job with their toppings and I must say I have grown to value the constancy. I did not know about the AI component of Dominos quality tracking but that makes a lot of sense. I also do think that the ease in which Dominos can be ordered is a huge reason why they appeal so much to consumers. It’s not that their unique in their consistency, availability and variety – but that they have mastered all three.
    I never order Dominoes and fear what I might be getting (I’m looking at you, pizza hut), and will continue to stay on the Dominoes train until someone matches their capabilities!

    1. murphycobc · ·

      I definitely think you nailed it with “consistency”. That is absolutely what they are employing AI for, and it is what they hope will keep customers coming back for!

  6. Lucy Wilson · ·

    Good post, Colleen! I, like others have already mentioned, am not one of Domino’s biggest fans. I’ll eat it when it’s available but wouldn’t say that I readily seek it out. I wonder how much this mentality, which is decently prevalent amongst many of my school mates, has hindered Domino’s digital efforts. Had I not read your blog post, I wouldn’t have been aware of all of the changes that Domino’s has been making.

    Another question that came up reading your blog post was the use of AI. Is this something that is being used in all Domino’s locations? How cool! I would love to hear more about how this has improved certain locations ratings and increased repeat orders from customers.

  7. mariaknoerr · ·

    Domino’s has definitely made a huge corporate culture shift. In addition to the extreme way they overhauled their products and took full responsibility for creating sub-par pizza, they also made major investments in technology. I don’t think either would have had the company-saving impact alone. Like Matt’s fiance, I wouldn’t register for Domino’s either. Although I do admire the creative push the company is making to utilize technology and social media to maximum capacity. Whether or not you like Domino’s pizza, no one can deny that they have made it the easiest, fastest, and most reliable chain to order pizza from. I am most interested to see how Domino’s can leverage their use of AI over time and what their next steps will be in working toward being an ecommerce company that sells pizza.

  8. nescrivag · ·

    I didn’t know how much Domino’s had expanded in the digital arena. I think it is really cool that they have created hotspots where people can get pizza when they are craving it (pizza delivered to the beach sounds like a great idea to me!).
    However, when I think of e-commerce companies, Domino’s does not come to mind. I think of other companies such as Warby Parker, Amazon or Wayfair, who started their business model solely online. I think that Domino’s will always be considered a Pizza delivery company but the way they have expanded their digital business will definitely make them a more predominant pizza company compared to Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.
    For Boston College students, I feel like Domino’s is pretty popular but I think a lot of people still prefer Pino’s. Domino’s may have expanded a lot but they still have to face local competition in many cities.

  9. Addison LeBeau · ·

    Great post! I’ve got to say I am biased and a HUGE Domino’s fan, but it’s not always my go-to. I remember from a young age that they were one of the first companies to design an online Pizza Tracker that would get updated in real time, as your pizza moved from “Order Placed” to “Delivery.” I think this concept would eventually become the mold that other delivery companies like GrubHub or Uber Eats would follow when giving the customer live updates. The Pizza Tracker is my earliest memory of Dominos embracing digital technology to smooth customer experience, and since then I’ve only come across more and more improvements. I think this was a great topic to cover for your blog post, well done!

    BTW – I love that quote from the Domino’s Digital Officer and completely agree – that is a model EVERY business should strive to adopt!

  10. kylepdonley · ·

    I used to scoff at Dominos pizza. It tasted like cardboard, looked like a pool of grease and usually showed up late, cold and flopped to one side of the box. After they fixed a number of these issues, I was still skeptical but gave credit where credit was due. Then they came out with the app. Oh my god, the sweet, beautiful, terrible, app. Now I am not safe from pizza no matter where I go. God forbid I’ve had a couple of drinks and get home late at night, and if so, there is a 99% chance there will be a pizza in my fridge and a coy push message in my inbox from dominos in the AM. They have converted a non-believer, one of the hardest things to do for a brand, and I know I am not the only one.

  11. phanauer1 · ·

    Great post! I had learned about Dominos’ recipe and PR reboot in one of my marketing classes and was impressed that they were listening to their customers so well and actually implementing things they were suggesting, but we didn’t really talk about their online push. I don’t order Dominos often enough to be personally familiar with the app, but I’ve heard good things! Otherwise, I didn’t realize there were so many ways to order exactly what you want from them, glad to see them getting so creative. In a way, their online turn around kind of reminds me of Netflix. Netflix is the best example of a company who saw the trends and turned their entire business plan around accordingly. Dominos online presence shift isn’t quite so dramatic, but they’re realizing what’s important in business going forward and capitalizing on it before it’s too late.

  12. tuckercharette · ·

    Dominoes fall and rise is a wild story for me to hear. I totally agree with you that they moved from ordering and delivering online to become an e-commerce brand that sells pizza. The absolute domination of Dominoes in the pizza space is hilarious because personally I don’t think that their pizza is even that good! They’re just everywhere! Even my sister who went to LA for 2 weeks in the summer at a camp admitted that she caught the dominoes craze there. The app was just so easy to use and nobody even wants to have to call a place on the phone anymore, people are just too lazy. For me and my friends at home, we often opt for other take out food and will even hop in our car to go grab better pickup pizza but here at school Dominoes makes it so easy!

    The Dominoes App almost acts like an even more convenient branding vehicle. While having locations all around with massive dominoes signs works, the ease of use of their technology and ability to market so well over digital mediums pushes their product in the right way to the right people. Who would’ve thought that something so simple as pizza delivery would be so bolstered by digital mediums. I’m directly thinking of @kylepdonley comment about sending him emails and notifications in the AM after a late weekend night. Absolute genius on Dominoes part.

  13. Nice post. Clearly the students were interested in it! Maybe I might even have to try Dominoes again. The last time wasn’t so good.

  14. Keenan Neff · ·

    I think the one thing that Dominos did better than any of its competitors is capitalize on the college market. They are the go-to late night place for a majority of the college population. Dominos does get a lot of backlash for the quality of their pizza, but I personally think that they have done a much better job making sure that their food was at a respectable enough quality to serve to customers. They really made a lot of progress to get away from having a bad reputation when they invested money and time to technologically make the process of ordering food easier. Adding the feature on their website where you could track you pizza and check the status of it was what got them trending upwards in the eyes of consumers. I cannot tell you how many times I have ordered Dominos and just watched the Pizza go from station to station.I actually just got an email from Domino’s saying that there mix and match 2 for $5.99 deal is back. I have to order Dominos tonight.

  15. DingnanZhou · ·

    Nice post. I agree with comments from @keenanneff. Domino is almost part of my college life. Most occasions midnight just equals domino pizza. Its app is very user friendly, letting you to make fast order, and the tracker also send you notifications for every step in the progress. I think technology definitely play a significant role in this business. I would also like to know more about AI in the kitchen. From my understanding, AI will also have learning abilities, so maybe they will make more customized offers for users? I am curious to find out!

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