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Domino’s Pizza jumps ahead in mobile ordering with 3D imaging app

Domino’s Pizza’s new iPad application gives marketers a much-needed example of how to create compelling mobile ordering apps with 3D technology and touch-based features.

Despite the fact that pizza chains have had an early advantage in mobile compared to other quick-service chains, many of the brands in this vertical have focused their mobile initiatives solely around driving incremental revenue. However, Domino’s new app suggests that there is a bigger opportunity for pizza chains on tablets that not only have bigger screens, but are also used in significantly different ways.

“For QSRs, embedding a loyalty program into the app is a natural evolution,” said Ritesh Bhavnani, founder and chairman at Snipp Interactive Inc., Washington.

“And like Dominos did, putting in features that allow customers to streamline and customize the ordering process also makes sense,” he said. “The key focuses for any successful app should be to optimize the customer experience — make it easier, better, faster.”

Mr. Bhavnani is not affiliated with Domino’s. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Domino’s did not respond to press inquiries.

Upping mobile engagement?
The app uses 3D technology to tweak images so that the menu looks more realistic. For example, the crust of the pizza appears to be raised, and the pizza’s image differs depending on what toppings and sauce are added.

Three tabs across the top of the screen let consumers customize the crust and size of their pizza, cheese and sauce and toppings.

Domino’s app also leverages finger swiping in some unique ways to customize pizza orders. For instance, consumers can choose which side of the pizza gets more sauce or specific toppings by tapping on either the left or right hand of the screen.

The final stage of the pizza-making process is toppings, which fall from the top of the screen.

The app is also locked into horizontal view, which keeps the screen as big as possible during the ordering process so that consumers do not accidentally hit buttons or add the wrong ingredient to a pizza.

Once a pizza has been made, it is added to the shopping cart and the checkout screen is split to feature a big checkout feature on the right-hand side of the screen.

Additionally, pop-up ads recommend additional food items before consumers click through to finalize the order. While this may seem like a small feature, the ads are big and include simple calls-to-action that are again geared towards tablet users.

Additional recommended menu items run along the bottom of the checkout page.

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Moving beyond conversions
3D technology and graphics in particular make a lot of sense on iPads when consumers presumably have more time and want a different experience than the basic ordering features that are already available via the smartphone app.

Domino’s reports that digital topped 40 percent of all United States sales in 2013, and the company also has apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices.

The pizza chain has also been putting some marketing muscle into mobile and digital ordering, most recently with a limited-time offer during the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s March Madness basketball tournament (see story).

“Around 30 percent of all pizza orders for Dominos are coming from mobile — tablets and smartphones,” Mr. Bhavnani said.

“While they don’t break up volumes between the two, a significant volume probably comes through tablets, and the bulk of that is probably iPads,” he said. “Given the volumes they get through the devices and the efficiencies brought about through digital ordering, it totally makes sense for them to optimize the experience on those devices through which they get the majority of the orders.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York