Domino's Pizza's appetite for risk

After their recent immersion into the wearable technology market, Domino's CDO Michael Gillespie talks about maximising the digital space and using technology as a competitive advantage.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

Take a risk and listen to your customers, Michael Gillespie, chief digital officer for Domino's Pizza told the ThoughtWorks Live conference on Thursday, "It's about thinking differently and pushing boundaries. ..It's about being hungry."

In the first quarter this year, Domino's reported a record net profit of AU$29.1 million, up 44.2 percent from the same period last year.

In "doughnating" his insights into the success of Domino's in the digital realm, Gillespie said that in order to succeed, companies need to embrace startup thinking.

"Learn what makes those startups special and keep that aggressive innovative thinking. Make people want to use you.

"We've remembered our core; we've just used digital as a method to enhance that experience and delivery of our core product, which has evolved.

"Pretty much any electronic device that you can access the internet from, you can order a Domino's pizza," he said.

Listing Domino's social media platforms, Gillespie said that wherever a Domino's customer wants to be in a digital space, they are there with them.

"We are also there in an offline capacity; you can still walk into a Domino's store," he said.

"Right now, well over 50 percent of our sales are on digital, some stores are very high [in digital sales], and over half of our digital sales are on mobile."

In 2006 Domino's made a breakthrough in the fast food digital space -- they saw a way they could share their real-time data collection with their customer, and created the pizza tracker, which was available on its desktop viewed website.

"Once you made that order, you could not stay on the phone for 15-20 minutes for that order to be fulfilled," Gillespie said. "But with technology we could take existing data we had and put a nice little interface on it -- and that's the pizza tracker. Domino's took the problem, 'Where is my pizza?', and used technology to provide the answer."

Three years later, Domino's launched their mobile application, allowing customers to visualise their pizza before they ordered it. "I've been in the industry for a long time, but I would really struggle to talk up a pizza verbally. You want to see the picture, you want to see steam, you want to see a slice, you want to see all that sexiness that the pizza has," the CDO said.

Within two months of the app's iPhone launch in 2009, Domino's generated over AU$1 million in revenue, Gillespie said.

In July last year, Domino's launched a crowd sourced project, Pizza Mogul, allowing 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 their own social media network. As a reward for each sale, people earned between 25 cents to AU$4.50 per pizza, and, as two teenagers from Toowoomba who pocketed AU$55,000 from the venture found out, it became a popular way for customers to make some dough.

Earlier this year, pizza delivery received its biggest shake up with the arrival of the Domino's GPS Driver Tracker. In partnership with Navman Wireless, Domino's launched the tracker to allow delivery drivers to be tracked via GPS when en route to making a delivery.

Just over a month since the launch of the Domino's app on the Apple Watch, Gillespie said that the move into this space was about empowering the early adopters of the wearable technology,

"It's about that 'wow' moment when they can see that their pizza is ready in store on their watch, without having to find their phone," he said.

"What comes next? Well I know what comes next -- at least I hope I do -- but, I could come back in 12 months and I bet you 30 percent of that will be completely different to what we expect. We've seen the customers change the way they want to engage with us, we're seeing new platforms launch, and various other digital disruptions that we need to respond to -- and be there first."

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