Why Domino's Pizza keeps on top of what the competition is up to in digital

Gary Flood Profile picture for user gflood October 1, 2018
The UK arm of Domino’s Pizza makes £100,000 from online every four minutes. It’s got there by hard work and good ideas, says its CEO - but it’s never not checking what the competition are up to either

A company that sells 90 million of anything every year is probably doing pretty well with the bottom line. How about one that has grown sales by a factor of three in the last ten years, and opened 2.25 as many stores in the same time-frame?

We can agree that that sounds like it’s doing something very well - especially if you find out it’s a consumer business and that some of those years encompassed the very dreariest of the Great Recession. And if you ask what the contribution of online techniques have been to that expansion, the answer is that they’ve been fundamental.

In 1995, Dominos Pizza Group Plc, the UK arm of the global pie maker, made a total of £100,000 from its online work. In 2015, it recorded the same amount of sales in not 365 days, but 7 minutes; its CEO, David Wild, says that it’s on track to rack up that amount in more like 4 this year, as it pushes through to becoming a £1.2bn turnover operation (it was only a £400m operation in 2008).

We have achieved phenomenal performance in a very challenging market, but if you buy a pizza from someone else we still feel we’ve let you down. Our vision is to be the number one pizza company in the world, and also the number one in your neighbourhood It’s a vision we’re working to achieve one pizza at a time, with online fundamental to our doing it.

Domino’s in the UK (and its Irish, Swiss, and Scandinavian direct operations) says it does it by... well, you’ve heard this one before:

In the last five to six years, we’ve seen a lot of disrupters enter the market - Deliveroo, Just Eat, Uber Eats. But we’ve done OK, because we live and operate like a disruptor, too. In fact, these new entrants are just fuelling the same trends that help us; customers don’t care about channels - they just want to get a pizza as quickly and conveniently as we can make and deliver it for them.

‘Easy’ is the new ‘loyalty’.

Sure, big company that thinks like a start-up. Yawn: cliche. But from Wild, it doesn’t feel like b.s., but something that he actually has going on in his team - which is refreshing, even more so that he is a grizzled veteran of the UK retail scene, having had senior leadership responsibility at companies including Halfords, Walmart and Tesco.

For a start, he’s far too old to be embarrassed about being pretty direct about what he believes in:

Why are we number one in our market? Because our pizzas taste the best. Our bases are nicer than what you get at Pizza Express, and our sauce tastes nicer than Papa John’s.

He’s also pretty open about how he sees new ideas coming from for any cool new innovations in his brand’s web and mobile offerings:

The great thing about digital is that it’s an early warning system for everyone else in the market - they can immediately see what’s being tried out. We’re always looking at what the other guys are doing, and if it works, fine - we do it too. You have to steal ideas now - it’s the way the world works.

And by the way, things haven’t ‘changed’ - they are changing, this is an active process, and the rate of change is not in any way slowing down. It’s also not ‘the digital department’’s job to be doing this, by the way - everyone in the company needs to be part of digital in modern business.

But great mobile app selling is just part of what Wild thinks he needs to be doing. He’s also pushing hard on advertising, across multiple channels, from TV to YouTube, where it produced some interesting YouTube-only fun video for its World Cup campaign over the summer, he points out, while a new venture is taking them to a place where participants barely watch TV at all - online eSports, via backing the Gfinity gaming series.

We are always working really hard - and investing the money - to remain at the top of peoples’ minds. It’s an extremely noisy market, and even a brand like ours needs to keep salience to remind the consumer about what Domino’s can offer.

It’s no coincidence that we sponsor ‘Hollyoaks’ - which comes on just around the time you may be deciding what to eat for the evening. It’s also no coincidence that we sponsor the ITV Hub, so that when you download a programme for the family to watch you may decide to get a Domino’s.

The company is also highly committed to exploring what else digital technology can offer it, he adds.

We’re absolutely not sitting back. We know we could be doing a better job with our app, which we’ve neglected a bit, and we have a big piece of work going on right now to fix that. Inside two years, we’ll be on a completely new Azure technology infrastructure we are pushing to be best in class for our industry.

We just pushed £38 million into a better automated dough-making facility to make sure our franchisees get the very freshest and best dough we can give them. We are also very interested in GPS, which is helping stores, drivers and customers better track where their food is, which also makes for more productive drivers, saved time and greater efficiency. And finally, we are really looking at our data to see what’s working well so we can do more of that thing. This is why I love working where I do - everyone loves the brand, and it’s so much fun.



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