For the last nine years, pizza chain Domino's Pizza has working on delivering what its customers want — a digital engagement with the brand — and this week the company has launched what it describes as "by far the biggest" asset to its digital business, Pizza Mogul.
Pizza Mogul allows customers to either create a pizza from 1.4 million different variations on its online ordering system, rename or change any existing pizzas on the menu, and share the pizza on a own social media network — whether it's Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube — in an effort to get other people to buy it through Domino's.
As a reward for each sale, people can pocket between 25 cents to AU$4.50 per pizza.
Domino's Pizza CEO Don Meij said the introduction of Pizza Mogul, which was developed in conjunction with ThoughtWorks, is a natural progression for the business, and will meet the needs of "me-tailing".
"We created the slogan 'people powered pizza' in the last year because we believe the next phase of our digital business is that how do we put more of the process back into the hands of the customers, and that's where pizza mogul comes from," he said.
Pizzas can also be ranked and rated based on popularity. For customers that have the number one selling pizza in any week, Domino's will reward them with AU$2,500.
"For some people, it's not about the money. People just want to create and share their own pizza. Pizza is a social food, pizza is consumed in groups. So often people have wanted to name their pizza and share it," Meij said.
Currently, 60 percent of the company's total sales come from online, with more than half through a smartphone. But the results haven't appeared overnight. Over the last nine years, the company has undergone a complete digital transformation, including moving the entire business into the cloud and launching an online ordering system with its Pizza Tracker function.
As a result, Meij said it has boosted the company's efficiency levels.
"Because everything on the net is trackable and measurable, it means we have got real-time data that encourages change to happen faster," he said. "Before in the old world, you spent a lot of money on research once or twice a year and it was expensive, expensive research, and you had to interpret what people were telling you.
"But here our customers are talking us directly telling us what they think in numbers that are material and meaningful."
The digital transformation has also brought technology to the forefront of Domino's business decisions.
"We think often about how we're going to communicate through technology first. It's so much easier in the way we can communicate with customers," Meij said.
"In the old days if we wanted to launch a product it would take three weeks to build awareness, now it takes about five days because we can talk to customers more on a one on one basis.
"The team rallies behind that. It's more internal rather than externally produced material because in the old days we went through agencies that created materials like TV commercials and that took months and months, now we can turn things around in hours."
Meij also admitted while technology has helped the company proportionally reduce the amount of money it spends on "old media", costs in other areas have increased, such as employing more IT people, as well as housing, building, and managing the costs associated with the cloud.
"While we having savings in one pocket, there are costs in another pocket. But it's a more productive business, we're much bigger and stronger because of it," he said.
According to Meij, the company's digital team is now nudging nearly 60 people, a shift from only two IT employees in 2000. An additional 40 ThoughtWorks software writers, programmers, and engineers were also employed to work on the Pizza Mogul project.
"The number one employee outside of our stores is somebody in technology now," he said.
Going forward, Meij said Pizza Mogul for now is the company's core focus, but there plans to announce another piece of technology mid to late August, which will be rolled out over 12 months.
"We think it'll also be quite significant."