Pizza Industry Tech Street Fight

Pizza Industry Tech

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“Let’s order a couple of pies!”  … “Let’s grab a slice!” …  Those suggestions are alive and well, as evidenced by Americans eating an average of 156 slices each year.  The pizza industry is estimated at $46B.

Local single-location pizza shops still exist, but the MULO (multi-location) giant Domino’s tops the list in terms of both the number of locations and revenue generation.

Currently, 35K chain locations exist across all brands and close to 40K independents operate in the U.S.

But every aspect of the pizza industry has evolved due to consumer tastes and technology.

  • Healthier crust alternatives abound, including gluten-free and cauliflower crust options. Lou Malnati’s (a Chicago-born brand with close to 80 locations in the U.S.) even has a pizza variation with a sausage crust.
  • As we know, local search has evolved dramatically over the past decade. Consumers will often start by searching “pizza near me,” and their decisions are impacted by a wide range of factors—proximity, delivery time, hours of operation, topping and crust options, price, consumer reviews, social media presence, loyalty programs, and photos.
  • Apps abound in the pizza industry. They include:
    • Slice: a technology company dedicated to serving independent pizza store owners with a wide range of automation tools.
    • Loyalty apps: Every smart MULO pizza brand has its own rewards program, offering discounts and deals to fans.
    • Tracking technologies: Domino’s was probably the first to market with sophisticated tools so hungry diners can follow their pizza from prep to curbside. What’s next? A view inside the oven? Perhaps. Read on….
  • Domino’s has been a few steps ahead of the industry regarding its technologies. They recently forged a strategic AI alliance with Microsoft. Domino’s also has an entire page on its website, dedicated to innovation and automation. It covers B-to-B innovations (like supply chain management and manufacturing), as well as consumer-facing tech-based experiences. We recently wrote about how autonomous delivery is changing the food landscape.
  • Robotics are making their way into the world of food prep. Otis can make about 180 pizzas in an hour. Innovations like this can ease labor shortages and the pain of minimum wage increases.

But the human side of pizza is alive and well, too!

Pizza fans can follow any number of Instagram accounts, join Facebook groups, or attend pizza festivals.

Some of us may remember the scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in which Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) orders a pizza to be delivered to his classroom. His teacher (Mr. Hand) was shocked.

However, Andrew Maynard, Professor of Advanced Technology Transitions and Director of Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Future of Being Human Initiative, devised a unique (and teacher-approved) way to combine pizza with tech education. He says:

“There’s a strangely profound connection between pizza and the future. I lead a class at Arizona State University where we explore some of the most transformative advances in science and technology that are changing the world, and we do this while eating pizza. The pizza, it turns out, is essential to creating an atmosphere where my students feel safe and comfortable sharing and discussing their ideas. It’s hard to be a jerk when you’re sharing pizza with someone! The class is, appropriately, called ‘Pizza and a Slice of Future’.”

Advances in AI, robotics, voice, apps, prep and delivery technology, digital marketing insights and personalization will transform the pizza industry’s future.

But the very human act of deciding on toppings, crusts, sides, and desserts (a growing source of revenue for MULO pizza brands) is here to stay.

We can’t tell you who should get the last slice, but we know technology is transforming the pizza industry!

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.
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