How Domino's used technology to woo millennials and beat rival Pizza Hut

Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

Domino's Pizza spent a good part of the last decade chasing what seemed like every digital doodad to deliver pizza -- sometimes to the scorn of observers who pointed out that the business was, after all, popping topping-covered dough in an oven and delivering it.

Why, the skeptics asked, do you need a digital voice-recognition app on your phone to order a pizza, when you can just call and speak to an actual person?

But now, as Domino's claims the title of largest pizza chain by global revenue -- edging out its longtime rival Pizza Hut -- the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company's relentless pursuit of digital technology appears to be quite prescient.

And it's working on automated pizza delivery with drones and driverless cars.

"We used to be a pizza company that sells online and we needed to become an e-commerce company that sells pizza," Dennis Maloney, Domino's chief digital officer, said last recently in an interview. "That was one of the big aha moments that caused a lot of conversation within the company."

One question that retail analysts are asking, though, is whether this is part of an effort to eliminate jobs.

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Among the company's innovations:

--An app to track a pizza is while en route to you.

--A Siri-like voice recognition system, nicknamed Dom.

--The ability to order on just about any digital device and platform.


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