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Donatos Pizza rolls out responsive mobile commerce site

The newly relaunched Donatos Pizza Website is one of the first fully responsive mobile commerce sites in the restaurant industry, and comes at a time when consumers’ digital experiences are becoming increasingly imperative in the pizza segment.

The new features an animated, image-heavy menu interface, real-time geo-location that displays nearest Donatos locations and a semantic search function to enable users to explore menu combinations. Because the site adapts for mobile devices, users will get nearly the same experience on a mobile browser as they would by accessing the site from a PC.

“Donatos saw approximately half of all traffic to its site originate from mobile devices last year,” said Nick Seguin, partner at Dynamit, Columbus, OH.

“Over that period mobile orders increased 2 times. Expectations are for that trend to continue. The mobile-first responsive approach anticipates and accommodates customers in this way.”

Dynamit is a Midwest digital agency that teamed up with Donatos to create the new site.

Order up!
Donatos fans can place orders for delivery or pickup without logging in or creating a profile—two prompts which proved problematic on the previous online-ordering platform. Because customers must supply an email address at checkout, the brand can track previous and favorite orders linked from purchasing behavior.

One of several regional chains heavily investing in digital ordering, Donatos began a beta test before site relaunch last month, and gave customers the option to engage on the new platform, or revert back to the old.

Near half of all Web traffic to preferred the newest version.

The restaurateur plans to track how the new functionalities and improved UX will affect customer frequency and average check size, though the brand admitted results are promising so far.

Burning up
More mainstream brands such as Domino’s and Papa John’s Pizza have built hype surrounding their long-running online ordering services and mobile apps as capabilities that have helped them take market share from independent pizzerias and smaller chains including Donatos.

NPC International, the largest Pizza Hut franchisee with nearly 1,300 locations, reported recent declines in sales and profits resulting from lagging pace in digital ordering offerings. However, it did have the opportunity to regain traction and build up sales and customer loyalty.

The big 3 in pizza derive more than 40 percent of sales from digital ordering channels, with analysts predicting Papa John’s will be the first to hit 50.

Donatos saw a 22 percent increase in sales  from digital ordering, which occurred prior to the relaunch, and expects upwards of 30 to 40 percent respective of the heavy use of mobile.

Although it believes the redesigned site will offer competitive advantage, Donatos focus lies in creating value for its customers and not necessarily battling over market share from heavier advertisers or independents.

“We’re most excited about semantic search, definitely. The ability to start typing your toppings and see results immediately pulls us out of the ‘old school’ menu paradigm,” Mr. Seguin said.

“And this site is fast – it’s fine-tuned on the front-end for performance in order to serve demanding mobile customers who crave consistency—regardless of screen size or device, customers now order their pizza in the same way each and every time. It makes ordering a pizza simple.”

During 2012, Donatos system wide sales were estimated to have pulled in $166 million according to a recent Nation’s Restaurant News’ top 200 report.

Founded in 1963, the Donatos is a family-owned company and operates or franchises 154 locations in six states.

“Actively facilitating the shift of order volume to online is high on the list of strategic initiatives for Donatos, as it is with most companies today,” Mr. Seguin said.

“As mobile traffic and orders continue to grow, creating a single and central web presence made sense from a brand perspective and was very pragmatic in terms of marketing and communication efficiency.”

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