The restaurant industry is wasting no time jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon.
Domino’s Pizza Inc. has launched an app that will let customers place and track orders from their Pebble or Android Wear smartwatch, the company said Monday.
“Pairing Domino’s with smartwatch technology couldn’t be more of a natural fit,” Kevin Vasconi, Domino’s Pizza’s chief information officer, said in a statement. “We are constantly looking for ways to use technology to enhance our customers’ experience and provide them with more convenience. We pride ourselves on having a variety of online ordering options for customers to choose from.”
Restaurants are in an arms race to add more customer-facing technology, particularly as younger customers come to expect it and chains look for ways to improve service. Operators are carefully watching the burgeoning trend for so-called wearable technology, which is in its infancy but is expected to grow quickly in the coming years.
According to Seattle-based research firm NextMarket Insights, worldwide sales of smartwatches are expected to grow from 15 million this year to 373 million by 2020 — more than a third of the entire watch industry.
Pizza chains will likely be at the forefront of the restaurant industry in putting the technology to use. More than half of orders received by Domino’s and Papa Johns International Inc. are already through digital channels, including websites and mobile apps, and that percentage is rapidly growing.
“We want our customers to access the brand the way they want to access the brand,” Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle said during the company’s recent earnings call.
To use Domino’s app, customers would go online to fill out a pizza profile and save an “Easy Order,” or simply use a recent order. Users can then order the pizza and track its progress from the time it’s taken, to when it’s in the oven, and then when it’s ready.
Other restaurants may also be exploring smartwatches. St. Louis-based fast-casual operator Panera Bread is reportedly among companies developing apps for Apple Inc.’s Apple Watch, which will be unveiled at an event next week. The app would let users pay for food with the watch.
Panera has worked rapidly to integrate technology into its restaurants. Last year, the company began a “Panera 2.0” initiative, which it is installing at restaurants around the country. It includes digital ordering, payment and operations intended to improve customer experience.
In September, Panera became one of the first companies to begin using Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payment service. The operator did not respond to a request for comment.
Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected].
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