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The Future of Takeaway Technology Is Pizza Shaped

Domino's have just added voice ordering capabilities to their delivery app, which means the next time you want a pizza, you’ll barely have to action your greasy digits. Just fire up your smartphone and bellow your order from the comfort of your sofa...
Photo by Ben Sutherland via Flickr

The next generation of eating is here, and it arrived on the back of an old Honda scooter.

Dominos pizza, the home of the weird, crinkled phallus-like hot-dog-in-pizza-crust fame (that has, in turn, lead to a doughy arms race after arch rival Pizza Hut announced that they'll now shove mini cheese burgers into the side of your pizza if you'd only just ask) has added voice ordering capabilities to its Android and iPhone apps.

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That's right. The next time you want a pizza, you'll barely have to action your greasy digits. Just fire up your smartphone and bellow your order from the comfort of your sofa, like a mad, cheese-obsessed Miss Havisham. Staffed by Siri's burn-out little brother, Dom (seriously), the app's "intelligent virtual assistant," this little gizmo is being sold as a great leap forward in technology. And you know what? It might just be.

Domino's Pizza CEO, Patrick Doyle, has obviously been watching plenty of TED talks and exalted through the medium of press release that "there will be a day when typing on keyboards or with thumbs on mobile devices will come to a close; we want to be the ones who continue to advance the technology experience—hand-in-hand with our customers."

Which sounds like bullshit, but then he continues. "Whether ordering pizzas, booking a flight or transferring money into a bank account—convenience is what translates to increased sales and customer satisfaction," and it becomes clear that not only is this man is a genius, but that Domino's really is at the forefront of technology.

Think about it. All the developers, coders, and entrepreneurs who are trying to build the next platinum ticket app are doing it wrong. Most of them end up having to create problems that you didn't know existed before asking you to download their app to solve them.

For Domino's, the problem is simpler. All they had to do is create an app that made it easier to order a pizza when you're stressed, hungover, exhausted, or throwing an old-school party where food is fun fuel rather than an excuse to show off to your friends. And it worked.

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Dominos accounts for one-in-six home delivered meals in Britain and one-in-three pizzas, according to the Financial Times. They were one of the first companies to take orders on digital TV and online, and one of the few companies to increase sales in the height of recession. And they looked to hire an extra 1200 staff in the UK for the duration of the World Cup because of the high demand. Just to give naysayers some perspective, the Dominos app has been downloaded over 10 million times.

Takeaway food is a treat, so it makes sense that part of the service should be ease of use. Because along with prompt delivery and those neat little tripods that stop the goods getting messed up in transit, making the process of ordering and paying as easy and painless as possible is hugely important.

The less clicks the better, because if you're about to drop £25 (around $42) on a magnificent beige dinner and you have time to think, what if I just went to the supermarket instead? that may mean some lost custom, which ain't going to fly in takeaway land.

In March, Danish food delivery pioneers, Just Eat, confirmed that it would list its shares on the London Stock Exchange. The company, which began life as a platform for Denmark's fast food eateries to shill their wares online, now has its biggest market in the UK. From 13 territories—including Ireland, Canada and Spain—two thirds of the company's revenue comes from hungry Britons.

But the difference between Just Eat and Dominos is a purity of intent. Just Eat caters to all kinds of tastes, whereas Domino's need only cater for the pizza lover. As such, they need to engender loyalty, and this comes through good service. There's no middle ground with a Dominos—they want to make sure you come back to them.

Of Dominos' two billion dollars in global digital sales (2013), 35 percent is driven by mobile. This is because the user experience is great, and getting better. Go on the website and it's all big round buttons and clear signposting. It's hard to fuck things up for yourself. In America, you can create a pizza profile that allows you to save favorite flavors and orders so when you come back you can order in just a few clicks, just like Amazon's one-click ordering service. And they seem to be doing okay.

Combine this ease of service with the trust that comes with Big Pizza over your local, strip-lit takeaway—you know you can chew Dominos out on Twitter if your cheesy slab is ten minutes late and get a response—and you have a compelling argument for pizza lovers everywhere.

Capitalizing on the twin primal instincts of hunger and apathy, Dominos is pushing mobile technology forwards in a far more positive way than some New Balance-wearing twit with a revolutionary new networking app ever could. That said, an app that lets you build a 3D image of your dinner before you order seems a bit silly. It's pizza. We know what it looks, feels, and tastes like. It's a big, doughy comfort blanket of familiarity, and that's why we keep coming back to it.