​Domino's to track customers via GPS en route to store

Building on its GPS driver tracker application, Domino's will now be tracking its customers on their way to in-store pizza collection.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Domino's Pizza Enterprises will from Monday be tracking customers en route to in-store pickup, when it launches its On Time Cooking concept Australia-wide.

Speaking in Sydney on Thursday, Domino's Group CEO and Managing Director Don Meij said the idea behind On Time Cooking was to ensure food is not sitting around in store getting cold before the customer is able to collect it.

When placing their order, the customer will tell Domino's how they are getting to the store and their order will only commence when the customer has entered the "Cook Zone" -- a dynamically updated virtual zone around the store that represents the current store lead time.

If the customer has told Domino's when ordering that they will be walking to the store, Domino's will receive a notification when the customer has entered the Cook Zone, with their smartphone or smartwatch device communicating via GPS location tracking to the store.

According to Meij, the concept builds on the company's existing GPS Driver Tracker initiative, which Domino's launched early last year in partnership with Navman Wireless. The driver tracker has been pitched by the CEO as a safety measure that sees delivery drivers tracked via GPS when making a delivery, live updated for the end user.

In addition to On Time Cooking, the pizza giant launched nine other digital initiatives on Thursday that the organisation expects to go live over the next few months.

Also building on its GPS Driver Tracker capabilities, Domino's has added an estimated delivery time to its online ordering system to provide a clear and accurate estimated time for their delivery. Similarly, Domino's has enhanced its existing Live Pizza Tracker, a function which shares real-time data with customers on the progress of their order.

Currently, customers can order a pizza by sending a text message displaying only a pizza emoji. Meij said Domino's has built on this by creating a separate smartphone application called Zero Click, which will see an order placed within 10 seconds of opening the app.

"From the moment you open that app, you have 10 seconds to cancel your order, otherwise your favourite or your previous order will be on its way to you," Meij said.

"You better get out [of the app] if you don't want this order -- you better not pocket dial."

Meij said it was inspired by a similar concept Domino's in North America already has in place.

Domino's has also initiated Project 3/10, which Meij hopes will cut cooking time down to three minutes and delivery to 10 minutes.

"A Domino's store today still works in Henry Ford mentality, and that is that we still make everything in one line," Meij said. "Some of the assumptions we were making about estimated times were simply just inaccurate."

"The 29 years that I've been in business, we've been cooking pizzas in roughly seven minutes ... we started first creating our own ovens and now we're working with a global manufacturer to actually produce a faster oven which right now is cooking in four minutes and soon will be cooking in three."

When it comes to data, Domino's chief digital officer Michael Gillespie said that not too many companies in Australia have access to the volume of data Domino's does, and with this, the company will be launching a targeted upselling platform, which is presenting customers with deals that are relevant to them.

"We're using data a lot, a lot more than we ever have before ... over 10 years Domino's has been building a rich customer database," Gillespie said.

"Hopefully the customer won't see it as an intrusive element, but an enriching and more valuable experience."

Earlier this year, Domino's unveiled the first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle, the Domino's Robotic Unit, known as DRU.

Capable of driving at only 18 to 20 kilometres per hour, DRU uses Google Map data and data obtained by Domino's GPS tracking technology to manipulate bridges, footpaths, and even rubbish bins placed on the curb.

Weighing in at just under 190kg, DRU has a custom-built hot and cold food compartment and upon receiving a delivery, the customer inputs a code provided to them by Domino's, which opens the top hatch of the unit.

DRU was born out of Domino's innovation lab, DLAB, with help from local startup Marathon Robotics. Located at Domino's headquarters in Brisbane, DLAB is a startup incubator, designed to attract a dynamic range of entrepreneurs from food science through digital technology.

"The centre will allow startups to use our facilities while being exposed to our commercial culture and how we bring innovation to life," Meij said at the launch in February. "Vice-versa, we are exposed to that enthusiastic, paranoid, dynamic culture of startups that we'd love to bounce off.

"It is a way for us to speed up our innovation and to do more."

Since DRU's launch in March, the self-described gender neutral robot has been working in Queensland's Hamilton store, with Meij saying the robot will be a part of the Domino's team, performing a number of different tasks.

"I've been cruising the streets like the hi-tech robo-mofo I was built to be, meeting lots of customers, learning from all the awesome Domino's delivery experts, and clocking up some robo-miles delivering hot, fresh pizzas," DRU said.

When asked if there has been vandalism attempts or customers trying to steal the robot, DRU said that it would like to see people try, adding, "Who wouldn't want to steal me, I'm awesome".

Meij said the development of DRU has only just started for Domino's with the robot set to embody a bigger, more holistic artificial intelligence (AI) role in the company. All AI interaction Domino's customers are set to experience with Domino's will be via DRU, Meij said.

A customer's first experience with DRU will not be via the delivery unit, but rather through online ordering, with Domino's to add voice AI to online ordering platforms in the near future.

"DRU's in the future will come in all forms of robotics," Meij said. "The future is very much voice. You will then be able to say, 'Hi DRU can I place a pizza order?' You can engage, especially in the safety of your car."

Meij said that variations of DRU could be seen in stores in New Zealand within the next year, with the country's government begging Domino's to have DRU road-ready as soon as possible. Domino's will need to continue to work with governments within Australia before DRU can cruise the streets freely.

The final two digital initiatives the pizza giant launched on Thursday are its European Tracker, which is a modified version of the one used in Australia and New Zealand, given the different privacy regulations countries such as the Netherlands has.

After now having franchises in Belgium, France, New Zealand, Netherlands, and soon Japan and Germany, Domino's has also kicked off One Digital & the Domino's Global Market, which will allow the inter-market communication between each country.

Previously, 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," he said. "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."

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