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DULLES, Va. -- Having a pizza delivered to your door is as easy as restaurant ordering gets. But ZonePay, a Dulles, Va., company is launching a service it says will go even further.
According to CEO Harri Ihanainen, ZonePay, which goes online Nov. 30, allows customers to order food from several restaurants via Web phone.
Ihanainen first saw the technology at work more than a year ago while attending a hockey game in Finland. Using a Web phone, he placed an order for a burger and a beer, which was then delivered to his seat. The transaction was completely hassle-free: no waiting and no exchange of cash.
ZonePay aims to be just as easy, said Ihanainen. Customers who want to order through the service set up user profiles-such as food and beverage preferences, delivery addresses, and payment methods-at ZonePay's Web site or through its customer service center. Orders are then placed through ZonePay's Internet protocol (IP) network, its servers route them to the correct restaurant, and the transaction is completed. Standard land-line phone orders work just as well.
Ihanainen expects pizza companies will become a large portion of his client base for several reasons. Customers are preconditioned to the order-delivery sequence, and any way they can avoid the dreaded busy signal when calling for an order will be a plus.
"Pizza places lose so much business during Monday night football because so many people try to call the store at once, and then they have to sit on hold," said Ihanainen. "Orders are also taken down in a rush, and that's an opportunity for mistakes. We can eliminate that because all you have to do is hit two buttons on your phone and the order is complete in seconds."
Ihanainen wouldn't disclose the exact cost of the service, but he did say hardware at each store costs a couple hundred dollars, and that ZonePay earns commissions based on transactions.
Customers using the service pay 25 cents per order.
To date, about 20 northern Virginia restaurants, including Papa John's, Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and Fuddruckers have signed on for the new service.
Andy Freitas, the director of operations for Colonel's Limited, a Papa John's franchise group with 24 units in northern Virginia, told the Washington Business Journal that ZonePay makes the simple process of ordering a pizza simpler.
"If we can give them an alternative via their phone with a couple clicks, and they don't have to worry about cash, all the better," said Freitas. "The more cash we can eliminate in the store, the better."
Also out on the Web phone-restaurant ordering market is Pizzacast, a mobile commerce application developed by Motorola and being tested by Domino's Pizza stores in Las Vegas. Ihanainen said that technology is similar to ZonePay, but that his allows users to order from multiple restaurants, not just a single pizza company. As much as people love pizza, he said, their restaurant cravings extend far beyond the humble pie.
"We believe pizza is going to be huge for us, but we don't believe people want to sign up for service from just one restaurant," he said. "If I'm a customer and I can get access to 20 restaurants, I'm going to prefer that."
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