Blaze Pizza zeroes in on convenience Photos courtesy of Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza zeroes in on convenience

Fast-casual pizza chain’s CMO Shivram Vaideeswaran talks delivery and ordering

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is working to make the brand more convenient for customers by adding delivery at some restaurants and tailoring its ordering capabilities, CMO Shivram Vaideeswaran said.

The Los Angeles-based fast-casual pizza chain partnered with third-party delivery provider Caviar in February to bring the service to 17 of its 252 restaurants as part of its “Blaze Instantly” initiative.

“In our category — not only in the pizza space, but in fast casual — you are seeing this huge boom in how to drive more convenience to our guest,” Vaideeswaran told Nation’s Restaurant News. “In 2018, our focus is on how we can leverage technology better to make our guests’ lives easier, faster, smoother.”

In addition to delivery, Blaze Pizza is working to provide seamless online ordering and mobile ordering through its app. It even added old-school phone ordering at the toll-free number 1-877-BLAZE-4-U.

“We want to make ordering a pizza from Blaze the most accessible thing you can do,” Vaideeswaran said. “One of things we had seen in the pizza category is that picking up the phone and calling in was something that was very familiar and very natural to a lot of our guests.”

Blaze Pizza went live with phone ordering in February with a national call center set up through SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions. Orders are shuttled directly into a nearby unit’s point-of-sale system. The company uses Olo for online ordering and provides delivery through Olo’s Rails platform.

“The big push now is delivery,” Vaideeswaran said.

The company has started with 17 locations in key metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

“That is something that will continue to expand,” he said. “We are talking to multiple third-party providers.”

Blaze Pizza is trying to match the in-store experience with its apps and online ordering platforms.

“We don’t want to lose the essence of who we are,” Vaideeswaran said. “We want to be conscious of leveraging technology that our guests appreciate.”

The brand currently has 1 million email subscribers, and the company will continue to use that as a marketing avenue and “touch point.”

Ultimately, heightened convenience is an important driver of business.

“We’re continuing to grow our online and app ordering, because we know convenience is what drives our guests,” Vaideeswaran said. “I think third-party delivery will be a big play not only for us but for the industry. We have to make sure we are a high-quality option. Fast is in our name, and we have to make sure we deliver on that — literally.”

Blaze Pizza, which debuted in August 2012, in Irvine, Calif., had systemwide revenue of $279 million in 2017, an increase of 51 percent, compared with $185 million the previous year. Same-store sales increased 3.7 percent in 2017, and average unit volume is $1.4 million, the company said.

In July 2017, Blaze Pizza received an investment from Brentwood Associates.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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