WEEKLY WEB WATCH: Domino's slices new niche for itself with interactive ordering

Readers of this column will know that I get enthusiastic about the potential of the Internet and other interactive media to transform companies, or their image and reputation. It's not just about new ways of selling or communicating with customers or other 'stakeholders.' Interactive media seem to have the power to transform simply by virtue of the fact that you're using them. And two recent examples that came my way have more than borne this out.

Readers of this column will know that I get enthusiastic about the potential of the Internet and other interactive media to transform companies, or their image and reputation. It's not just about new ways of selling or communicating with customers or other 'stakeholders.' Interactive media seem to have the power to transform simply by virtue of the fact that you're using them. And two recent examples that came my way have more than borne this out.

Readers of this column will know that I get enthusiastic about the potential of the Internet and other interactive media to transform companies, or their image and reputation. It's not just about new ways of selling or communicating with customers or other 'stakeholders.' Interactive media seem to have the power to transform simply by virtue of the fact that you're using them. And two recent examples that came my way have more than borne this out.

Nobody who knows Domino's Pizza would accuse it of being a premium brand.

It might be one of the leaders in home-delivered fast food, but it is still more couch potato than the trendsetter's choice in modern dining.

Nor has it been a brand that other brands want to be associated with.

And it has had trouble attracting and retaining staff, with an image, along with another great fast food giant, of employing people in McJobs.

But wait. Before we consign Domino's to the branding equivalent of a pile of soggy pizza boxes, let's take a look at what the company has been doing in the UK, where it launched an online ordering service on BSkyB's digital interactive TV platform nearly a year ago. This basically lets those couch potatoes order pizza with their TV remote control, without even having to shift themselves to a telephone. The company reckons TV ordering will account for 10%of its total UK sales by next year. It has also found that TV orders are on average 35% higher than on the phone, and that 20% of people using the service had never used Domino's before.

This shouldn't be surprising, really. After all, most home-delivered food is consumed in front of the TV. And Domino's is a long-time sponsor of The Simpsons, which BSkyB broadcasts at 6 pm every day. Most fast food orders are made on impulse, and you can't really beat the TV remote control as a tool for impulse purchasing. So the affinities are obvious.

But while numbers look very promising, it is in the areas of PR and image that Domino's has made almost incalculable gains. It has not been slow to exploit the PR potential of being a first mover, and it has gained considerable coverage in the process, transforming external and internal perceptions of the company. Its marketing director Chris Moore puts it this way: 'We can show our brand in a much more dynamic way than we used to be able to. People have constant access to it in their homes, and for the first time we have been able to underpin our brand as being young and innovative. Those are not attributes you would have associated with Domino's in the past. And staff perception has been transformed. We have benefited tremendously in terms of pride and loyalty.'

And it probably won't stop here either. Domino's is in the process of rolling out a multi-channel interactive strategy that will see the service taken to wireless devices and even net-enabled games consoles like the new Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation 2. That will no doubt bring more coverage, and more customers who would never have been caught dead using Domino's in the past. In the meantime, the company is building relationships with video games suppliers, with plans to deliver games along with the pizzas that are ordered, something it is already doing with AOL subscription CD-Roms.



- Stovin Hayter is editor-in-chief of Revolution. He can be contacted at stovin.hayter@revolutionmagazine.com.



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