Technology keeps Domino’s at the top of the pizza game
By Tan Jee Yee January 7, 2020
- Among the first Domino’s to fully integrate GPS tracking for riders
- Dual engine of global tech and locally-customised solution leads to innovation
IN 2009, Domino’s Pizza did something that few companies dared to do: they admitted that the previous version of their pizza was bad. They accepted that “it tastes like cardboard.” They changed the recipe. They launched a series of ads featuring the tagline: “Oh yes, we did.”
It marked another change to the company as well. Said its chief digital officer Dennis Maloney in an interview with Restaurant Business Magazine, that’s when Domino’s starting thinking of itself as an “e-commerce company that sells pizza”, and that they “be good with data, not afraid to fail and operate with a speed closer to Amazon than a pizza brand.”
Before his departure, former Domino’s Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle says that the company is “as much a tech company as [they] are a pizza company.” Of the 800 people working at headquarters, fully 400 work in software and analytics. All of that has translated to the myriad ways customers order from the company, from using the Domino’s app to texting a pizza emoji.
Now, it’s testing autonomous delivery using the R2 autonomous rover from Nuro, a robotics company. Since 2014, Domino’s introduced DOM, a virtual-ordering assistant currently being refined at 40 Domino’s stores. DOM uses AI and voice recognition to let customer dictate orders via mobile devices while on the go, or through Amazon Alexa.
That’s Domino’s in the United States. But this is an international pizza chain with more than 16,000 stores globally. One surely has to wonder: what about Domino’s elsewhere?
In Malaysia, the edge is just as cutting. Domino’s Malaysia and Singapore are not behind when it comes to adopting new tech, and they’re not doing their bit in innovating as well.
“They key thing is, at the base, we’re still about selling pizzas,” says Domino’s Pizza Malaysia & Singapore deputy president of operations Shamsul Amree.
“It’s just that there has always been a lot of technology involved. With tech, we ask ourselves: how can we become faster, more efficient?”
The answer lies in the release of their new app in November, 2019. As with the Domino’s Malaysia tagline, “It’s all about you,” the design of the app is entirely centred on customer experience. “It’s about how to make it more meaningful and better for the customer,” Shamsul says.
How that translates into the app is by making orders incredibly convenient. For starters, users don’t even need to sign up for an account. There’s an option for customers to order via the app but choose to collect the pizzas at the nearest store location instead, with the app handily showing them the exact time the pizza would be ready.
And of course, the app now accepts all sorts of cashless payment gateways, including e-wallets.
The proverbial topping on the pizza here, though, is the introduction of a GPS tracking feature. With this, customers get to track where the delivery riders are when their pizza is en route. Essentially, customers will get visibility of almost exactly where their pizzas are, from oven to road to home.
“The biggest pain the customer has is waiting for their pizza. When you order pizza you don’t want to go anywhere or do much of anything because you don’t want to miss the delivery. This gives you peace of mind, and lets you do whatever you want with the time you have,” Shamsul says.
The thing to note is that Domino’s Malaysia and Singapore has implemented the GPS tracking feature nationwide, whereas Domino’s in the US is only available for approximately a quarter of their locations. Granted, both are significantly smaller countries, but this shows the dedication towards tech adoption in this side of the world.
Innovating from within
The Malaysian and Singaporean counterparts to the large pizza chain aren’t just creating tech features out of thin air, though. Being part of a global brand, each country’s Domino’s get to make use of any APIs that are shared or released by the brand.
This essentially means that the aforementioned features such as Twitter ordering or zero click ordering are available to the Malaysian-Singaporean Domino’s, should they want to implement it. “It’s an exciting foundation for us. In the next two to three years, the marketing tech and operational tech available in the US can be applied here,” Domino’s Pizza Malaysia & Singapore senior vice president of marketing Linda Hassan tells Digital News Asia.
This also means that any innovation the Malaysian team creates with the API can also be adopted by other countries. Hassan says that the fourth version of Domino’s Malaysia’s website was created in collaboration with the global office, with them building upon the vanilla version of the platform and customising it to suit Malaysian-Singaporean customers.
The world resource team ten discovered that the customisation of Domino’s Malaysia made can be useful and applicable to other markets.
These solutions are a result of maintaining the local development agency that worked on the previous version of the website so that even when Version 4 is in development, Domino’s Malaysia kept them in the equation. This proves vital – after all, you’ll need local talent to understand local sentiments.
It’s the sort of dual-engine system of marrying local customisation to the source API from the global brand that allows for further innovation.
“Once we have the two working together, it is a stable engine for us to create many different extensions,” says Hassan.
“In the next three years, you will see a lot of operational tech that will be coming up, and a lot of marketing tech that will improve the whole customer experience.”
Shamsul says that, at the moment, Domino’s Malaysia & Singapore’s delivery average is 24 minutes (they’re a 30-minute pizza delivery company). The next step is to constantly shorten that time through the use of tech.
“We’re getting faster and faster because of tech,” he says, adding that technology like GPS tracking as well as their use of data to better optimise routes and riders means that the base layer to improve delivery time to up to a mere 10 minutes is all there. “These are the first layers for us to get there. We are going to get there.”
The right use of tech will also allow Domino’s here to innovate on existing F&B trends, such as drive thru. Shamsul notes that drive thru is a trend now, but setting up one requires significant investment to build an outlet that has the infrastructure to support it.
Shamsul imagines that with tech, customers can instead make an order online and arrange for a pick up at a nearby branch, but instead of needing to park and walk in, the Domino’s staff would’ve been notified and is ready to hand over the pizza to the customer as soon as they pull up.
Tech will also simplify the operational process of each branch. Managers will soon be able to easily and more accurately order supplies they need rather than go through a complicated process.
“Businesses like ours, managers are required to take stock, and that takes time. With technology, we’ll be able to tell the managers what they require – 20 kilos of cheese, 40 boxes of that, things like that. The process of managing will get better,” Shamsul says.
“Our managers don’t need to crack their heads on what they need: the system will tell them, based on the sales of the past few days, that this is how much they need to order. That’s one of the examples,” he adds.
Hassan says that artificial intelligence is already being employed for marketing, especially on their online platform. The engine is currently still learning, but once it has learned enough, it will be more properly implemented.
We can expect innovation to keep coming. After all, as Shamsul puts it, Domino’s has always been about innovation, from its 30-minute delivery concept to its state-of-the-art PoS system to its ovens and hotbeds. Pizza may not change, but the technology surrounding it will.