Pizza Hut today officially debuts its new “Visible Promise Time” website feature, which gives customers delivery and carryout wait times before they make an order, the company told Nation's Restaurant News.
Baron Concors, chief digital officer at Plano, Texas-based Pizza Hut, said the new feature is intended to add transparency to the ordering process.
“We’re looking at all angles of our business to figure out how we can bring that transparency and authenticity of our brand to the consumers, and this is one of the best ways we’ve found,” Concors said in an interview Tuesday.
With the ride-share Uber app and other technologies, consumers are growing accustomed to “getting what they want when they want it,” Concors explained. “In that spirit, we said, ‘Let’s just tell them before they order how long it will take.’”
Pizza Hut began testing “Visible Promise Time” in December. The feature started rolling out in February, and this week debuts in 95 percent of domestic non-express locations, or about 6,000 units, Concors said. It allows customers to see an estimated 10-minute window of when their food will be ready prior to placing the order.
“They can make the decision on whether they want to pick it up or have it delivered,” Concors said. “They can see all that information before they even place their order.
The promise time is determined by an algorithm, developed in house, that includes the volume of orders in the restaurant, how many delivery drivers are in the location versus on the road, and when drivers are expected back in the restaurant, Concors said.
“It’s challenging from a data-passing perspective,” Concors said. “We’re getting the data from the store on what’s the promise time for delivery and carryout.”
Customer reaction so far has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Concors said. “I personally read through the comments that come through every day in our customer-service channels, and people really appreciate knowing that information up front.”
Concors likened it to buying a plane ticket. “Would you ever buy a plane ticket if you didn’t know when it took off and landed until after you bought it?” he asked. “No one would ever do that. Why should pizza be any different?”
While customers can leave the online ordering process if the wait is too long, Concors said some make the alternative decision to pick up the pizza at the restaurant if the wait time is shorter. “There are a lot of what I call ‘use cases’ of people in this busy world,” he said. “They are making the decision that is best for them on their own terms.”
Pizza Hut has been monitoring the customer experience with the promise time. “We look at the data every morning and look at whether the order was too early or too late,” Concors said. “In the rare instances where that happens, we reach out to the consumers and try to make it right with them.”
He said Pizza Hut is working on other digital initiatives like promise time to make ordering easier in the competitive pizza segment, which includes digital powerhouse Domino’s Pizza.
“You’ll see us introduce more and more things like this,” Concors said, adding that Pizza Hut was intent on creating a “Really, wow, that was easy” experience.
Pizza Hut parent, Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., said Thursday that Pizza Hut same-store sales rose 5 percent in the first quarter ended March 19. Digital orders as a percentage increased 3 percent in the quarter, CFO David Russell said in a call with analysts, and now represent 46 percent of all orders. But on the Super Bowl, 50 percent of orders came via digital channels.
Pizza Hut has more than 15,600 restaurants in more than 97 countries.