Pizza in the Digital Age: What the Pizza Tracker Can Teach Us About Standing Out in the Online Marketplace

Last night I listened to my mother’s rapturous joy as she watched the progress of the pizza she just ordered.  It was her first time ever ordering pizza online and I do believe she is a convert.  In fact knowing my mom, she is out there right now telling people about how cool Domino’s pizza tracker is, and I know of at least one person who will be ordering a pizza just to see how this works.  So, with a single interaction, Domino’s has created a fan and at least one new customer.

The Domino’s pizza tracker is an excellent example of how a business can utilize web technology to get people talking and drive business.  We live in a world where just about anything can be done online, so participating in the online market place is critical, but you can’t just be there you have to do something to wow people.  Otherwise, you will just be ignored; this is where e-Commerce applications like the pizza tracker come into play.  When your only interaction with a customer is going to be in the online space, it is critical to create an experience that will stick with them and make them come back.  One of the best ways to do this is to create applications that elicit joy and excitement from your user.  So how do you do that?  I think we can take some lessons from the Domino’s Pizza Tracker:

  1. Pay attention to the whole experience and make the interface easy to use: The part that grabs attention is the pizza tracker, but a person’s experience begins from the moment that they enter your website.  The reason that Domino’s pizza tracker is so much fun is that all of the steps leading up to it are easy, so you aren’t frustrated and ready to get off the website when you are done.  The choices are clear, prices update each time you select a product, navigation is a breeze, and it is easy to add or remove things from your cart without having to go to another screen.  If people find your website hard to navigate or the ordering system hard to use they will never get to that really cool feature that everyone is talking about.  No matter how life changing your application, fundamentals matter.
  2. Respond to common problems:  The pizza tracker is an answer to a common question, “Where is my pizza.” Who hasn’t ordered a pizza and been sitting there, hungry, wondering how much longer it will be until your heavenly circle of tasty goodness arrives?  Domino’s has taken this very common question and turned it into a tool that makes them stand out in their marketplace.  When you are looking to create an application for your website, ask yourself, “How can I fill in a current gap in the user experience?”  If you do that, you avoid the snare of having an application that is purely cosmetic, you have an application, that changes the way people interact with you.
  3. Have Fun!  The best applications are the ones that make it clear that the developers and marketing people had a great time putting it together.   Your application should be creative, reflect your personality, and even have a little bit of a sense of humor about it.  Do avoid the temptation of simply being silly and unprofessional; you can have fun without making yourself look like a complete imbecile.

So where do you go from here?  I would start by making a note every time one of your employees or customers says “It would be fantastic if there were an easier way to do this” be sure you keep track of what they are saying the problems are and ways that they think would fix it.

Next choose a medium; do you need a mobile app, so that people can interact with your website on the go? Do you need an application that will drive more traffic to your website?  Do you need a social media application?  Figure out where your users are, how they are currently interacting with you, and target your new tool to those areas; but be sure that when you begin to build you leave room to grow and to expand to other places as your business grows.

Finally find a professional who can build it for you (Disclosure: Nourtek Solutions develops web and mobile applications for business).  Even if you are a techie with some programming skills or you know one, the price you pay to professional developers will be well worth it.  There are many developers out there who focus on solutions for businesses; they know how to make applications scalable and stable, so that the hot new thing you just developed doesn’t crash and burn. This is really important because you only get one chance to make a first impression.  If a user goes to your site to use an application and it crashes on them, they are not likely to go back and try it a second time.

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