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Domino’s jumps ahead in mobile ordering with voice-activated app

Domino’s is tipping impulse decisions supported by the fast-casual ecosystem with an in-app ordering persona called Dom that will assist customers during order placement.

Pizza delivery is a competitive space, with the leaders here quick to grab onto mobile marketing as a way to drive sales. Domino’s, which sees 40 percent of online orders coming from mobile, is likely to generate the kind of excitement with this new feature that can drive sales.

“One can’t deny the fact that there is something intriguing about a voice activated app,” said Shannon Spence, ?associate integrated media director for digital activation at Zimmerman Advertising.

“The fact that consumers don’t have to manually key in or click will generate buzz around the release, ultimately driving additional downloads of the Domino’s app and an increase in sales,” she said. “It only makes other Brand’s wonder what Domino’s next activation is.”

Domino’s Pizza, which has 5,000 U.S. locations, is partnering with Nuance Communications to offer the technology.

Domino’s did not respond to press inquiry.

Delivering convenience
In the express meal setting, any technology that drives convenience is potentially important. Whether this feature will be successful solely based on the cool factor or something bigger remains dependent upon implementation. While Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle admitted the tech isn’t perfect, a flawless execution will be the make-it-or-break-it in helping drive new or recurring sales.

After opening the app, users type in the desired delivery address and are directed to the ordering page where they can push a button to order by voice.

A digital assistant that identifies itself as “Dom” talks customers through the ordering process and attempt to upsell the user on additional toppings or complementing items. To finalize the transaction though, customers are still required to manually enter credit card information.

Speech recognition tech received a lot of hype surrounding the time Apple released Siri. But she became quickly dismissed as little more than a parlor trick due to frequent misunderstandings which gave her more a comedic value than practical assistant worth.

“I can see people yelling into their phones, “No, no I said EXTRA PEPPERONI!” said Adam Lavine, CEO of FunMobility.

“A lot of people do not use voice recognition technologies in ways that the programmers and marketers anticipated.  There are also factors like ambient noise, accents, etc.  But it will be interesting to see how this works.”

Introduced as a tactic to steal business from rivals with shallow pockets, Dom is another digital integration Domino’s hopes will drive sales based off of convenience. Last year, the company’s domestic sales rose 5.4 percent at established locations and were accredited to mobile and Web platform use.

Preference for digital
In theory, voice recognition should simplify any process for consumers by taking away the need to type on small smartphone touchscreens, and banking, like most verticals, is seeing a dramatic shift to mobile

Wells Fargo began working on voice-recognition technology early this year that would change the way that consumers bank on their phones. The technology will let consumers ask their phones for account information without having to type or click on a bunch of buttons.

For instance, if a Wells Fargo customer wanted to know how much he spent on gas during the month of November, he could just ask the app as opposed to having to click through different screens to figure out the number himself.

However, the voice recognition needs to be accurate and able to understand consumers. Otherwise, it will become annoying, and having to repeat a question multiple times might make a consumer give up and retreat to traditional ways of accessing account information.

“Today the keyboard remains central to data input across a variety of devices, but as consumers increasingly multitask, we see alternate means of input continue to grow,” said Brian Pearce, head of mobile for Wells Fargo’s Digital Channels Group.

The feature is not yet available to the public.

Mobile adoption
Quick-service restaurants have been known to be among the first to adopt mobile technology since the industry is founded upon speedy processes and mobile has the ability to expedite transactions.

Mobile ordering is almost table stakes in the QSR industry, and most companies have been moving forward to mobile payments.

For instance, the Taco Bell app contains everything a user would expect as well as neat tricks not initially anticipated. Customers may place an order even if they are too far away to pick it up quickly. Via GPS, the smartphone used to order in-app will notify the restaurant when the user gets close, alerting the staff to start preparing the order.

“Location awareness is a critical feature that could take the Domino’s app for consumers and perhaps even drivers to the next phase,” said Djamel Agaoua, CEO at MobPartner.

“We see developers addressing the growing demand from retailers to gain a better understanding of customers’ purchasing behavior in-store, at home and on-the-go via the mobile app by properly tracking and reporting their activities.”

Papa John’s, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Chik-Fil-A and KFC are just a few of the many QSRs who have been experimenting with mobile ordering and mobile payments.

Consumer adoption of mobile payments seems to be highest among these types of merchants since small, frequent purchases drive consumers to see more value in a branded mobile wallet.

Already, mobile and online ordering accounts for 40 percent of Domino’s U.S. sales. Growing that portion of its business has become a priority for the chain, with customers increasingly saying they prefer to place orders that way.

“At this point, I think the voice technology is just a novelty – but the implementation is what will makes the difference,” Mr. Agaoua said.

“While some people think there’s no need for a service like Siri, others rely on it quite frequently in their day-to-day use, though the technology is still in its infancy.”

“More brands should take advantage of the many untapped capabilities in mobile phones to make consumers interactions more efficient by using the mic for voice or even accelerometer to tell if someone is driving or at a particular retail store location. The gyroscope is another potential easy implementation found mostly in games, but could also help to immerse consumers by taking the swiping and selecting to simple phone movements.”

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York