Innovation in the pizza business used to be measured in new crusts, creative toppings and promotional pricing. But Papa John’s latest news underscores how much the business has become a digital derby as a path to growth.
The No. 3 US pizza chain is expanding its digital ordering ability with the launch of the first Apple TV app from a US national restaurant brand, giving customers the choice of customizing their pizza toppings or selecting from previous orders. As an added incentive, customers using the Apple TV app automatically receive a 25 percent discount.
— Papa John's Pizza (@PapaJohns) August 30, 2016
“Pizza and entertainment are a natural fit,” CEO John Schnatter, the highly visible face of the chain, stated in a press release. “With the launch of our Apple TV app, we’re hoping to make family movie night and friend gatherings around the TV even more enjoyable.”
The app features Papa John’s full menu, including full text and visuals. More importantly, it ranks as another industry first for the chain in its increasingly pitched battle with No. 1 Pizza Hut and No. 2 Domino’s for digital-tech leadership in an industry that has become all about how quickly and easily customers can place their orders. Digital orders also tend to be bigger tickets than phoned-in ones. Its Apple TV app features include:
• Conversational Group Ordering: Building a meal at home can be fun and fast! Select from Papa John’s entire menu of delicious pizzas, side dishes, drinks and desserts. Even build your own custom pizza the way you want it and have them delivered right to your door.
• Easy Check Out: Use your existing Papa John’s account to access your delivery location, credit information, and favorites. Just one “tap” and you’re ready to eat.
• Favorites and Past Orders: Users can order from our full menu, select from Recent Order or choose one of their all-time “Favorites,” depending on their mood.
• Exclusive Discount: All Apple TV users will receive an exclusive platform discount of 25% off their entire order, and earn Papa Rewards points for all future orders.
Papa John’s was the first US chain with digital ordering at all of its delivery restaurants, in 2001. It was the firs to offer systemwide mobile ordering with SMS text in 2007 and the first to launch a digital nationwide rewards program, in 2010.
Meanwhile, however, Domino’s has asserted itself as a tech leader by offering a variety of ways to order digitally and leading its rivals in the percentage of orders fulfilled digitally. The company’s New Zealand affiliate also just demonstrated its ability to deliver pizza by drone.
Pizza Hut has been No. 3 in the industry technology race but has been actively ramping up its relevance lately.
But there’s still a place for good old-fashioned marketing based on food and fun. That’s why, just in time for football season, Pizza Hut just launched a pizza box featuring a playable “flick football” field on its top, including goal posts, football triangles and a scorecard.