While old-fashioned brick-and-mortar buildings remain the foundation of the pizza industry, online activity continues to rise in its dominance as a preferred method of ordering for consumers and in becoming a key ingredient in the mix for generating revenue.
National chains for some time have toiled in the digital world. But even smaller, independent pizzerias - once kept at arm's length by exorbitant expenses and not enough manpower - now have access to the same tools as the industry's big boys and stand poised to slice themselves a larger piece of the financial pie.
Operators don't need tons of cash to branch out into online territory. They can even employ the same type of approach as their larger counterparts and, in a large way, level the playing field. What they need are tools, savvy and the drive to do it.
In the fiercely competitive industry, online presence is giving businesses of all sizes more ammunition in the fight to further pad their registers with money - and millions more of it.
"If you want to be one of the top companies, you have to think like the top companies," said Victor Martinez of Rhode Island-based PieZoni's Pizza. "It goes back to the idea of being small but thinking big. We're not one of the top five, but everything that we do, we do as though we were one of them, and it shows."
Pizza has long been the focus of American savor, a $40 billion a year industry that accounts for about 17 percent of all the nation's restaurants. People across the United States have such an appetite for pizza, they eat an average of 350 slices per second. And with 93 percent of Americans downing at least one pizza per month, pizza ranks as the top dinner choice in the U.S., according to a report titled "The Pizza Market in the U.S.: Foodservice and Retail."
Many experts in the industry don't necessarily consider online ordering a trend, but instead a mainstay of operations. The growth in online ordering has continued at a steady pace - 47 percent of pizzerias offer it now, as compared to 41 percent two years ago, according to the 2012 Pizza Marketplace Industry Report.
Customers expects businesses, regardless of their size, to have an online presence, and the availability of a variety of online tools will contribute to increasing sales and popularity.
The ability to sell online is only one component of a strong online business, but all have the same end result: generating additional revenue. Shoring up the bottom line hinges on ensuring Payment Card Industry compliance, employing effective digital sales tools, contructing easy-to-use mobile apps and integrating the online structure with social media.
A business doesn't have to be a major chain to make online work. Anyone can carve a digital niche.