Digital Life


Domino's HD makes you the chef

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Domino's new Pizza Chef on the iPad lets you make your own pizza without getting off the couch.

To be honest a new pizza ordering app is not something I'm likely to get excited about, but this one caught my eye for two reasons. Firstly, it's incredibly slick and interactive -- letting you drag and drop ingredients to design your perfect pizza. Secondly, it comes from a business that really "gets" the internet. Half of all Domino's sales now come from online. That's an incredible figure, built up from nothing six years ago, and it shows in the company's financial results. The aim is for online to make up 80% of sales in three years.

Of Domino's sales that come from the internet, 40% of those are via mobile -- iPhone, iPad and Android apps along with the HTML5 mobile site. The rest are via the main website, Facebook and an accessible site designed for the vision impaired. While many businesses are still spruiking "build it and they will come" plans for mobile, Domino's is clearly doing something right.

Most franchise models struggle when it comes to embracing the internet because it threatens to cut store owners out of the picture -- an issue which hampered efforts by the major video store chains to embrace online movie rentals. But online ordering works well for pizzas because there's still a physical product involved -- the online order is simply handed over to the nearest store. These days it's dropped straight into the store's electronic ordering system, just as if you'd ordered at the counter. It's welcome improvement from the early days. I still remember ordering a pizza using an early interactive television trial in Orange, only to discover 30 minutes later that my order was still sitting unnoticed in the store's printer tray.

The Domino's HD iPad app shows just how far we've come. It's slick, intuitive, flexible and visually impressive. You can start from scratch to build your own pizza, choose from the menu or even import a menu favorites such as a Capricciosa and then customise it to your liking. My young kids and their friends had great fun playing with the app, although they ended up creating $170 worth of pizza that no-one could stomach -- I doubt anyone wants a pizza topped with nothing butĀ Alfredo sauce and triple pineapple. Thankfully they didn't have a credit card to place the order, so we started again with a little adult supervision. You can opt for pickup or delivery, although pick up is a lot cheaper so I was happy to jump in the car to get them.

It's also possible to create an account and save your favourites, plus you can resume orders where you left off and even order up to 21 days in advance. You can even track its process as your pizza is made, cooked and delivered. It's a great example what you can do when you really focus on customer needs and the user experience. Even if Domino's pizza isn't to your taste, it's worth downloading the free iPad app to take a look.