After facing multiple quarters of market pressures and rising costs, Domino’s Pizza is relinquishing its former industry-differentiating commitment to first party-only delivery by partnering with Uber Eats and Postmates in a company-first aggregator partnership. For the first time, Domino’s U.S. customers will be able to order pizza through the Uber Eats or Postmates marketplaces starting in four test markets this fall — including Las Vegas — before rolling out to the rest of the country by the end of the year.
"As the number one pizza company in the world, it is not surprising that Domino's is a brand people have been asking for on Uber Eats' global platform," Domino’s CEO Russell Weiner said in a statement. "Given certain customers only order their delivery from the Uber Eats app, this deal could make Domino's available to millions of new customers around the world. Domino's will still be the face our customers see at the door, while Uber will be providing us with adequate data to understand delivery efficiency and incrementality.”
Uber Eats will have an exclusive delivery partnership with Domino’s through at least 2024 under this current agreement, which will also open the door to third-party delivery options in Uber’s 27 international markets. That process of international expansion is starting now, as master franchisees in international countries look to negotiate individual partnerships with Uber Eats.
This is a monumental change for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza chain because in the past, Domino’s has always fought the ubiquity of third-party aggregators and used its first party-only delivery operations as a differentiator to stand out in the industry. However, in recent years, this plan has proven to be detrimental to their profits as competitors like Papa Johns have increasingly relied on aggregator partnerships to pick up the slack in the current inflationary environment.
One notable difference here is that Domino's is only utilizing Uber as an aggregator, as a uniformed Domino's delivery driver will still be delivering all of the pizzas. The plan is to widen the scope and scale of potential customers to those who primarily find restaurant delivery and takeout selections by browsing aggregator marketplaces. Although the Uber Eats partnership is a big change, this appears to be a major compromise that addresses some of the hesitation Domino's had in partnering with aggregators in the first place, including preservation of brand integrity. Uber Eats customers that order Domino's will not only have the same Domino's-branded delivery driver, but will also still be able to use Domino's Tracker to check the status of their pizza order.
Of course, this compromise comes with its own downsides, as it still does not address some of the major driver delivery shortages Domino's has been experiencing over the past couple of years, though that need has been abetted somewhat, according to Domino's. The partnership therefore is not being leveraged in any way for delivery fulfillment, even as the company continues to rely more on carryout. During Domino’s last quarterly earnings call, company executives admitted that they are focusing more and more on carryout since delivery has been challenging for the company and is down more than 2% overall. In fact, in March, NRN predicted that “it’s not out of the question” that Domino’s status as top pizza chain could start to slip, and analysts agreed at the time that a relinquishment of the company’s first party-delivery-only policy was not out of the question. Despite the new shift to an aggregator partnership, the carryout strategy is likely to continue.
Domino’s also clarified though that the company’s own e-commerce platform will still be the best place to access coupons and deals, as well as the brand’s loyalty program, implying that the pizza chain does still prefer first-party orders and that this strategic move has been made with some reluctance.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]