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Pizza Hut’s mobile commerce goals drive connected car ordering test

Pizza Hut’s demonstration with Visa and Accenture of a connected car shopping experience at the Mobile World Congress is the next stage in consumers’ addiction to their smartphones, built on their growing trust in mobile commerce.

In an industry first, Visa is demonstrating connected car commerce this week at the Barcelona exhibition. The partners expect to test the connected car commerce experience in Northern California, over a three-month period, starting this spring.

The connected car is to feature Visa Checkout, Visa’s online payment service, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth Low Energy, as well as Beacon technology deployed at Pizza Hut restaurants to alert staff when the customer has arrived and is ready to pick up the order. Accenture is managing the technologies’ integration.

“The evolution of mobile devices and the consumers’ relationship with those devices is what has enabled this type of connected-car shopping experience to be possible,” said Will Phung, director of media with M&C Saatchi Mobile, New York. “There are two key elements here.

“First, the proliferation of mobile devices has fast-forwarded the technology and infrastructure necessary to create connected cars,” he said. “Second, and just as important, is the increased trust shoppers have in mobile commerce. 

“If consumers didn’t have faith in purchasing via their smartphones, they would never be ordering pizzas via their car’s console.”

Embedded connectivity
By 2020 it is estimated that more than 250 million vehicles worldwide will include some form of embedded connectivity, Bill Gajda, Visa‘s senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships, said in a release.

As the number of connected cars on the road increases, so does Visa‘s ability to bring secure online commerce to consumers everywhere.

General Motors’ OnStar is a major player in the history of connected cars.

Ordering a meal in the car on the way home from work is a key step in creating a world where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from the car.

With busy, on-the-go consumers in mind, the connected car concept led by Visa, combines leading edge payment security, cellular and wireless technologies to test connected car consumer payment experiences.

While the initial focus is on ordering food at a quick service restaurant, the technology can also be applied to other, everyday consumer purchases, including gasoline, transit and parking and drive-through retail opportunities.

Visa Checkout’s online payment service is integrated into the car’s dash.

Beyond the phone
“Mobile is moving beyond the phone – connected commerce will become a reality for everyone as the ability to pay or be paid is embedded into wearables, home appliances, and even our cars,” said Matt Dill, senior vice president for innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa in San Francisco, CA.

“We see changes coming and have been working to open our network to partners to ensure commerce is as reliable, safe and beneficial for everyone in the digital world as it has been in the physical world.”

Interactive Voice Control (IVR) is used to enable consumers to easily and securely make in-car purchases.

Mobile commerce is winning the public’s trust.

IVR lets the driver order and authenticate a purchase while keeping both hands on the steering wheel and maintaining focus on the road.

Pizza Hut, the world’s largest pizza company and biggest digital pizza brand by order volume, has already integrated Visa Checkout as an easy checkout option on

As part of the connected car trial, the company provides in-car access to menus, delivery and pick-up options as well as test in-restaurant beacon technology to notify team members when the customer’s car has arrived.

Pizza Hut’s aim is to offer customers ordering online speed and convenience and this new connected car technology is the way to do that, Baron Concors, Pizza Hut’s chief digital officer, said in the release.

Pizza Hut has the largest suite of mobile apps so it made sense for the brand to be first to test beacon technology in cars.

Pivotal role
Accenture plays a pivotal role developing the applications and integrating several technologies to build the technical foundation for secure and seamless in-car purchases.

This includes the car’s head unit, cellular network, Visa’s payment technology, the restaurant’s eCommerce platform, beacon and Bluetooth technologies.

Pizza Hut is adding to its reputation as a mobile trend-setter with its participation in the connected car commerce demonstration.

One of the brand’s executives was among several merchants at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2014 who were split on Apple Pay’s near-term potential, citing both significant opportunities as well as challenges faced by the new payments scheme.

Danny Sullivan, vice president of global digital experience at Pizza Hut, Plano, TX, said he was more pessimistic about Apple Pay’s impact than most people at the conference because it was shut off from the mobile Web, which is a bigger part of everyone’s business from mobile devices, and, it was shut off from Android.

Several limitations could mean the build will take longer than some are expecting, he said during the panel discussion, “Measuring Success In Mobile By Evaluating Performance Across Devices And Time.”

Progressing naturally in mobile payments.

The connected car-ordering demonstration marks a more organic stage in mobile evolution since he comes from the public’s habitual smartphone use and faith in mobile commerce.

“The industry should look at this initiative as a natural progression in the connected car experience,” Mr. Phung said. “Years ago, when OnStar released its emergency calling service, that was an integration of the ability to dial 911.  Pandora moved from a phone experience to one integrated with the car.

“This latest step is no different,” he said. “The technology is there for connected cars to mimic much of a smartphone’s functionality, while decreasing the distraction factor of actually using a phone.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York