Article reprinted from Cheese Market News. To view the Cheese Market News 6MB, PDF formatted version, click here.
New options in online ordering are paying off for pizza companies’ customer relations
By Rena Archwamety
MADISON, Wis. -- When ordering
pizza for delivery or take out, people
used to reach for the phone. Now when
they have a pepperoni craving, more
people are typing and clicking, while
more pizza businesses are maintaining
customer relationships online.
“It takes away the time an establishment
is spending on the phone taking
orders. It also allows the order to be
100 percent accurate,” says G.R. Homa,
managing partner of BigHoller, which
provides online food ordering interfaces
Online ordering also helps create
customer loyalty, Homa says, because
mechanisms allow the customer to
easily recreate past orders.
“Because it’s very convenient, people
end up ordering more frequently from
the same place,” Homa says.
When Homa and his business partner,
who came from transaction processing
backgrounds, started BigHoller six
years ago, their goal was simply to get
the order straight to the restaurant by
fax. Now with thousands of establishments
in the United States, Canada
and beyond using their online ordering
service, BigHoller has expanded its
technologies to include services such
as delivery zone mapping, coupons
and specials, point of sale integration
and PDA compatibility to keep up with
BigHoller provides online ordering
to restaurants of all sizes, including
Planet Pizza, Fox’s Pizza Den, Wheat
State Pizza and Sicily Pizza & Pasta.
Homa says BigHoller’s average restaurant
is doing $2,000 in online ordering
each month, and the majority have seen
growth month over month.
The nation’s leading pizza chains
also have seen growth in online ordering
and have expanded features in this
area to provide more convenience and
This month Domino’s Pizza announced
it reached $1 billion in online
sales since 2007 from Domino’s Online
Ordering and mobile systems. To
celebrate the achievement, Domino’s
gave free Chocolate Lava Crunch Cakes
to customers who ordered online on
Valentine’s Day and entered the promotional
code “HUG” at checkout.
Domino’s Online Ordering also took
more than 160,000 orders on Super
Bowl Sunday earlier this month, and
just before kickoff, customers were
logging on at a rate of more than 1,000
orders per minute, the company says.
Currently about 20 percent of Domino’s
orders are taken online, a number that
has grown and continues to grow.
“It has become a great way for us to
not just take orders, but a way to interact
with the consumer,” says Chris Brandon,
Brandon says convenience is a big
draw for online ordering, adding that
customers have a feeling of assurance
and interaction through being able to
watch and double check their order
through Domino’s Pizza Tracker, a
feature that allows users to track the
progress of their online order.
Other pizza chains also have seen
growth in online sales. Papa John’s
says more than 20 percent of its sales
come online or through text, widget or
smart mobile device. According to a
2008 report, its online sales since 2001
have averaged more than 50 percent
growth each year.
Pizza Hut in 2008 launched an online
ordering application for Facebook
and in 2009 launched a free ordering
application for Apple iPhone and iPod
touch users (Domino’s also last year
launched a new version of its mobile
ordering site optimized for iPhone, Palm
Pre and phones supporting the Google
Android operating system).
In addition to a convenient ordering
channel, Pizza Hut’s iPhone application
also provides customers with some
entertainment. If a customer adds too
many toppings, the pizza shown on
the iPhone “explodes” and toppings fly
across the screen with an alert to make
the pizza happier with fewer toppings.
When ordering WingStreet wings from
Pizza Hut via the application, users are
prompted to “cook their wings” by shaking
their iPhone or iPod touch until the
wings are covered. A delivery car game
called Pizza Hut Racer allows users to
pass the time while they wait for their
order to arrive.
In October, three months after the
launch, Pizza Hut reached $1 million in
sales from the iPhone and iPod touch
“We are very excited to see our
customers respond so positively to
our Pizza Hut App,” says Brian Niccol,
chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut.
“Reaching $1 million in sales with the
App emphasizes the value of ordering
innovation to our customers and how
important it is for Pizza Hut to continue
to create successful new ways to engage
Brandon says Domino’s probably will
always take orders through the phone,
but the company is interested in keeping
up with technology and exploring
new ordering channels. For example,
Domino’s partnered with TiVo in the past
to allow people to order pizza through
their television devices.
Homa says he also sees expansion
in online ordering and its options as
BigHoller keeps up with demand.
“I see it getting more sophisticated
as restaurants and consumers get more
demanding. As technology improves,
we have to be more responsive to those
demands,” Homa says. “It will definitely
overtake phone orders.”