No ad­dress? Domino’s can still bring you pizza

Chain sets up 150,000 ‘hotspots’ for de­liv­ery

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Zlati Meyer

Crav­ing pizza and have no ad­dress? No prob­lem.

In a twist to the emerg­ing “de­liv­ery econ­omy,” Domino’s Pizza will ac­cept or­ders to 150,000 des­ig­nated places across the U.S. on Mon­day that don’t have tra­di­tional street ad­dresses, whether they are parks, beaches or land­marks, such as stat­ues or St. Louis’ Gate­way Arch.

The Ann Ar­bor, Mich.-based chain has cre­ated a net­work it calls “hotspots,” which en­ables hun­gry cus­tomers to get their pre­paid on­line or­ders any­where from the Las Ve­gas Strip’s iconic wel­come sign to the statue of “god­fa­ther of soul” James Brown in Au­gusta, Ga., by us­ing their smart­phones to se­lect a pre­de­ter­mined de­liv­ery spot clos­est to their beach chair.

The de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sents a leap in an in­dus­try that pi­o­neered home de­liv­ery long be­fore Ama­zon, Wal­mart, Tar­get and restau­rant chains de­cided their fu­tures de­pended on it. Now, as re­tail­ers and restau­rant com­peti­tors try to fig­ure out how to profit from de­liv­er­ing goods straight to peo­ples’ doors, a pizza com­pany is tak­ing it to the next level.

“This is a re­ally big de­liv­ery in­no­va­tion,” said Dennis Maloney, Domino’s chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer. “It’s not nec­es­sar­ily a brand-new tech­nol­ogy. It’s the ap­pli­ca­tion of tech­nol­ogy in a new way.”

Mak­ing ad­dress-less de­liv­ery a re­al­ity was the confluence of two trends, he ex­plained. A grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are or­der­ing all types of food on­line — at Domino’s, for ex­am­ple, it’s now up to 60% — and smart­phones have be­come univer­sal. The plan takes ad­van­tage of smart­phones’ nav­i­ga­tion and map­ping abil­i­ties.

When the food is en route, cus­tomers get a text mes­sage telling them to head to the drop-off spot and keep watch for the tra­di­tional marked Domino’s de­liv­ery car. When cus­tomers ini­tially place their dig­i­tal or­ders, they have the op­tion of adding self-de­scrip­tors, like what they’re wear­ing, so driv­ers can iden­tify them eas­ily.

“Ev­ery per­son at the com­pany has at some point wanted to get pizza de­liv­ered to some­where where they couldn’t,” Maloney said.

Other Domino’s hotspots in­clude points within the Na­tional Mall in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., home to the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tu­tion mu­se­ums and Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment; and the At­lantic City board­walk. Ev­ery state has at least one.

There are some places that aren’t in­cluded. Maloney, for in­stance, said he didn’t think any home­less en­camp­ments are on the list.

Domino’s be­gan test­ing hotspots in the Mi­ami area in the fall, ac­cord­ing to Maloney. Along the re­gion’s name­sake beach, for ex­am­ple, there was one about ev­ery quar­ter-mile.

Ex­perts say the move rep­re­sents an in­no­va­tion.

“It’s the holy grail of ev­ery­thing they’d like to do in the con­text of de­liv­ery,” said Tim Ba­jarin, pres­i­dent of the San Jose tech con­sult­ing and re­search firm Creative Strate­gies. “You, as a cus­tomer, are no longer glued to an of­fice or a home.”

But, he said, “hotspots” could pose prob­lems, such as park­ing at busy in­ter­sec­tions or con­gested sta­di­ums.

DOMINO'S

Domino’s has cre­ated a net­work of de­liv­ery hotspots.

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