There are drive-throughs — but now there’s the drive-on. Ford and Domino's Pizza have joined forces to create the first known fast-food e-commerce app that is integrated with an automotive telematics system, so that registered mobile customers of Domino’s now can execute a hands-free order of their favorite fast food using the Ford Sync AppLink without having to crawl to a halt to in front of a speaker to get it going.
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By mid-year, Domino’s customers who have a Pizza Profile on their Domino’s mobile app will be able to order pizza from their Fords in just a few simple, voice-activated steps on their smartphones.
“This will be the first time any fast-food brand has been able to do this sort of e-commerce from a vehicle,” J. Patrick Doyle, CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino’s, told me. “The ability to tie all of this together with the Sync system and be able to order Domino’s while driving safely is a pretty big step forward.”
Ford executives are patrolling the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week talking about advances in Sync that may help Ford retain its trailblazing position in vehicle “telematics,” including the addition of Sync AppLink to 3.4 million more vehicles later this year to ensure seamless usage of smartphone apps in the car via voice command.
Doyle said it makes sense for Domino’s to share Ford’s progress in telematics because the world’s No. 2 pizza brand is No. 1 when it comes to the use of digital technology to help customers order pizza. This leadership position not only accounts for a big share of Domino’s sales increases but also greatly boosts profitability and also helps separate Domino’s from regional and independent pizza outfits that can’t afford or haven’t made the information-technology investments Domino’s has.
“Customers want to order using technology, and on a number of different platforms,” said the chief of the pizza brand that originated the 30-minute delivery guarantee decades ago. Doyle said the Sync app “will make it easier for someone to order from Domino’s for either delivery or pickup than it is for them to go through a drive-through window” at a quick-serve restaurant.
“The convenience of solving dinner that night while driving home is a pretty interesting step forward for us as traditional leaders around convenience within the pizza industry.”
Meanwhile, the development and execution of apps to enable all sorts of internet-based functions in the automobile has become what Ford futurist Sheryl Connelly has called a “quiet riot of innovation” in which not only other auto brands but also tech giants such as Google, Apple and Samsung increasingly are looking for an edge — a scramble that is on full display at CES.
Doyle said that Domino’s is “only working with Ford” on this sort of app at this point. But other quick-serve brands are sniffing around telematics as well, in adjacent spaces: Ford also announced this week that it is joining Taco Bell (as well as BP and State Farm Insurance) in selling ads on the Pandora online radio service that only listeners in the automobile will hear.
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