Since 2013, Domino’s stock (DPZ) has risen from $60 per share to almost $250 per share, a staggering 316% increase. Innovation, especially when it comes to cutting-edge delivery technology, has become the number one driver for a company that started with one shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1960 and has grown to more than 14,000 locations in 85 countries.
More than anything, Domino’s success stems from a first-mover advantage. The company has proven time and again that it’s not afraid to introduce new innovations or take chances with its brand. If an idea doesn’t work, the chain pivots and tries something else; and when it does work, the pizza giant goes all in. Domino’s has become the leader that everyone else shadows.
Following are the top 10 innovations that have helped Domino’s grow to become America’s leading pizza chain.
An early adopter even in the ’90s, Domino’s launched its website in 1996, the same year that the first web-based mail service (HoTMaiL) began. Not coincidentally, Domino’s also rolled out limited-time-only flavored crusts for the first time and reached system-wide record sales of $2.8 billion during the same year.
2. Domino’s HeatWave
In 1998, Domino’s began using a patented pizza delivery bag that was designed to keep pizzas oven hot from the time they left the store until they arrived at the customer’s home. The bags became a big selling point.
3. Online Ordering
Just 11 years after launching Dominos.com, the company was the first major pizza chain to introduce online and mobile ordering. By 2012, its online ordering app was available on 80% of smartphones; now it’s available on 95%. In 2013, the company also added Pizza Profiles, which allows customers to save their pizza favorites inside the app, and voice ordering for iPhone and Android came along in 2014.
By 2016, Zero-Click ordering meant that customers no longer had to lift a finger to get a pizza — they simply opened the app, and a 10-second countdown for pizza began. Today, Domino’s generates more than 60% of its US sales via digital ordering channels.
4. Domino’s Tracker
Ahead of its time, the revolutionary Domino’s Tracker debuted in 2008, allowing customers to follow the progress of their online order from the time they clicked “place order” until the pizza arrived at their home, thus eliminating the age-old question, “Where’s my pizza?”
5. A New Pizza Recipe
In 2009, just prior to the company’s 50th anniversary, Domino’s executives made a surprising — and bold — decision to create a “new and inspired” pizza. Some customers loved it, while others hated it, but after the shock (and major publicity) wore off, most people settled into the new recipe, which incorporated a more flavorful crust. Domino’s followed up this crust success story by becoming the first major chain to introduce a gluten-free crust option in 2012.
6. Pizza Theaters
In an effort to create greater transparency and a more inviting environment for its growing base of carryout customers, Domino’s began revamping its stores in 2012. The first Pizza Theater concept opened in Louisiana in 2013, with a redesigned space that featured customer seating, free Wi-Fi, a drive-thru for pickup orders, a viewing wall, and an in-store Domino’s Tracker to follow the status of orders.
7. Piece of the Pie Rewards
Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle has pointed to the company’s Piece of the Pie loyalty rewards program, introduced in 2015, as a significant driver in the company’s growth on numerous occasions. In 2017, Domino’s became the first and only national pizza delivery chain to offer points to its loyalty members no matter how they order, whether via the website, phone, or in stores.
8. Electric and Self-Driving Delivery Vehicles
Always searching for ways to get pizza to customers fast, hot, and fresh, Domino’s debuted its Domino’s DXP (Delivery Expert) vehicle in 2015. The car, which had a warming oven and storage areas for easy loading and unloading, could carry up to 80 pizzas. By 2016, 155 DXPs were on the road. Last year, Domino’s continued its car innovation by teaming up with Ford Motor Company to research customers’ reactions to interacting with a self-driving vehicle during a pizza delivery. A second test was conducted in February of 2018 in Miami, focusing on the last 50 feet of the delivery process, when customers would need to meet the car in their driveways.
9. AnyWare Ordering
Already the leader in online and mobile ordering, Domino’s introduced AnyWare Ordering in 2015, giving its customers even more options (and in line with consumer trends). Customers can now order pizza via text, tweet, Samsung Smart TV, Ford SYNC AppLink system, the Android Wear smartwatch app, Pebble smartwatch app, or via voice ordering with Dom. In 2016, the company added Amazon Echo and Alexa, Apple Watch, Facebook Messenger, and Google Home to AnyWare, and, in 2017, IFTTT and Slack joined the lineup.
In April of this year, Domino’s announced it was adding 150,000 HotSpots to its delivery locations. Customers could now get pizza delivered to a beach, park, museum — no physical address required.
Though Patrick Doyle has called Domino’s a tech company that happens to sell pizza, all of their innovations have stayed true to the company’s core competency: pizza. Unlike other chain restaurant’s publicity stunts — like the KFC logo visible from space — each new program or technology Domino’s has deployed is designed to get their food into hungry diners’ hands (or homes) as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Not every restaurant will go all in for drone delivery and wearable technology, but even the most analog kitchen can learn something from Domino’s desire to experiment and innovate.
About Aaron Allen & Associates
Aaron Allen & Associates is a leading global restaurant industry consultancy specializing in growth strategy, marketing, branding, and commercial due diligence for emerging restaurant chains and prestigious private equity firms. We work alongside senior executives of some of the world’s most successful foodservice and hospitality companies to visualize, plan, and implement innovative ideas for leapfrogging the competition. Collectively, our clients post more than $200 billion, span all six inhabited continents and 100+ countries, with locations totaling tens of thousands.