What does it take to be a technology innovation leader? Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison delivered some insights on Domino’s tech dominance over the years at the CREATE virtual keynote “How Domino’s Built a Culture of Digital Innovation” moderated by Nation’s Restaurant News’ editor-in-chief Sam Oches.
From being one of the only major foodservice brands left sticking with first-party delivery only to dabbling in AI technology, here are some of the areas where Domino’s keeps pushing the boundaries in technology excellence:
Sticking with first-party delivery
It’s well-known that Domino’s has become one of the last companies that has not partnered with any third-party delivery companies, preferring to eliminate the middleman. This has kept Domino’s on its toes as it constantly works to keep up with and even surpass capabilities of restaurant technology companies, Allison said.
“Customers can get anything delivered anytime they want, so we have to be even better as we look into the future than we have in the past,” Allison said during Wednesday’s session. “We stay on top of what’s new in the industry, listen to what our customers want and continue to ramp up our investment in our people and platforms.”
Continuing to use its own pizza delivery people, Domino’s can better control quality and output, which has given the company a competitive edge.
“When a customer orders delivery the only contact they have with the brand is a delivery at the door, and we want a uniformed expert at that door,” Allison said. “From a food safety standpoint, that food is always in the possession of that expert and we’re not handing that food off to someone we never met before.”
Controlling customer data
Another perk of Domino’s relying only on its own delivery drivers has been unfettered access to customer data, which Domino’s can use to create a better digital experience for the customer.
“[With customer data we can] do robust AB testing, try to reduce friction, make it easier to order, upsell additional items that fit with the meal or customer,” Allison said. “We’ve gone from having one or two analytics professionals to dozens of them.”
As an outlier in the delivery category, Domino’s can use this to a competitive advantage, maintain economics of transaction at the level the company prefers, and assure customers that their data stays in-house.
Eliminating employee friction
Ritch Allison said Wednesday that the thing that keeps him up at night most as CEO is –unsurprisingly—the current labor crunch, which is the worst he remembers ever seeing. But they can use technology investment to improve employee expriences.
“We’ve been breaking down the job of delivery driver to figure out how to get 100% of that driver’s time to be in the car delivering that food,” Allison said. “[..] We put GPS tools in place that let them get up to speed more quickly with less getting lost, we’re working on ops procedures at dispatch sessions in stores so food is bagged, tagged and ready to go. It’s a lot of tech also old-school operations efficiency work.”
Investing in autonomous delivery
Another way to ease some of the labor pressures will eventually be autonomous delivery. Domino’s was a pioneer in this area, first with their partnership with Ford and more recently in working with Nuro to deliver pizza completely autonomously via robot to the Houston area. Although it may be awhile until robots become more of a mainstay than a novelty, Domino’s is prepared to be on the frontlines when that does happen:
“We’re ready to deploy a solution like this more broadly across our business,” Allison said.
Knowing where to draw the line
Although technology is a big part of who Domino’s is, the team knows where to draw the line so that these investments don’t interfere with the Domino’s brand and quality of product:
“The one place where we’ve held onto that ‘human being as center of the process’ is the making of our pizza,” Allison said. “It’s topped to order and put into the oven […] that’s the last thing we’d want to get rid of because handcrafted is an important part of who we are as a brand.”
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