Domino's franchisee using self-service kiosks to reach college crowd

Ordering a pizza is now easier than ever thanks to the variety of options to do so, from phoning it in to using a computer, tablet or smartphone. And now, a project by a California Domino's franchisee and technology provider EMN8 is offering yet another ordering route — self-order pizza kiosks.

Not to be confused with a pizza vending machine, the Domino's self-ordering kiosks were executed by Mark Talarico, a Domino's Pizza franchisee, who deployed them in high-traffic areas of the Tropicana Student Housing residence halls for UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College students in California. (Attempts to reach Talarico were unsuccesful).

Through the 20-inch interactive touchscreen kiosks, Domino's incentivizes ordering by offering a $1 discount for students that order via the kiosk instead of online or on their phone — a tool that Dave Wilcox, the executive director of Tropicana Student Housing, said bodes well with the young demographic.

"The students have liked the kiosks because it has made the ordering process very easy and convenient," Wilcox said. "They also have liked that they have a better deal by ordering on the machine versus on their phone. These are college kids and they want to constantly be looking for the best value that is easy to find."

Why kiosks?

The convenience of pizza ordering is well established. At major U.S. pizza chains, like Domino's, sales from online and mobile orders have grown from about 20 percent in 2009 to more than 40 percent now. In fact, customers can now order a pizza from their iPhone, Android, Kindle, Facebook page and even their Xbox console courtesy of a new app from Pizza Hut.

Trevor Chong, the VP of business development at EMN8, said that while there are a lot of ways to order pizza, the kiosk is an integral addition to the options.

"You can think of the kiosk as an interactive order point that gives the user feedback," Chong said. "You can also think of the kiosks as a mini pizza store with 24-hour advertising, having the ability to draw a customer in. If a tired and hungry student walks in to their dorm, they might not think of Domino's, but with the kiosk they become aware."

Chong described examples of cases where self-order kiosks provide additional benefits to brand partners, such as the kiosk's ability to be multilingual, communicating to users in English and Spanish which "adds another great piece of convenience," he said. The intuitive user interface also acts as an extension of the brand experience, which Chong said expands the brand's message from its Web and mobile ordering on to the kiosk.

"For various brands, they have a certain voice they want to communicate, and the kiosk has the ability to do that while extending their store in a cost effective manner," he said.

U.S. versus abroad

EMN8 works with franchisees from Domino's, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, KFC and Burger King — but a large part of the self-order kiosk deployments take place outside of the United States. The company recently deployed its kiosks in Taco Bell and KFC locations in India, tailored specifically to appeal to the country's cultural norms and its tech-friendly middle class.

"I think that there is definitely a large demand for kiosks outside of the U.S.," said Chong. "We are seeing that in various markets around the world."

But Chong said that kiosk acceptance is indeed growing among Americans, with airport check-in kiosks, grocery store checkouts and mobile technology fostering a familiarity with interactive technology.

"We are seeing momentum in the U.S. increasing," Chong said. "I think we will start to see more and more kiosks pervading the store environment. As customers and brands keep looking at how to engage with each other, I think over the next five years there will be a steep climb."

Click here to view a slide show of the EMN8 self-order kiosks for Domino's and KFC India.

Read more about customer experience.

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