Minsky's experiencing 'exponential' sales growth since online ordering launch

April 9, 2014 | by Alicia Kelso

Kansas City, Mo.-based Minsky's Pizza recently overhauled its website to be more of a "marketing hub," with social media tie-ins, promotions and individual location specials. When the 15-unit company began working with its agency to build a new Minskys.com, owner Gregg Johnson realized how much potential was really available online.

Consequently, the brand now also includes online ordering and a mobile-compatible website. After months of testing, the online ordering feature went live at all locations during the third week in January. Although online ordering wasn't a priority in the initial web makeover plan, the company says it is now "going gangbusters."

The two stores that have been online the longest — since August — are experiencing continual 10 to 15 percent growth of online orders, on top of their 10 to 15 percent growth in months prior.

"They've had continued exponential growth. In other words, as the base number of online orders grows for each store, the following month, the orders are still growing 10 to 15 percent on the new base," Johnson said.

The newer online ordering stores, those that launched in January, are experiencing even greater percentage growth. The feature is also adding to ticket — Johnson said since the OLO launch, Minsky's has sold more desserts and delivery beverages than ever before.

"And, with automatic suggestive selling at checkout, add-on items are suggested on every order, for every customer," he said. "The average OLO ticket two months into the rollout is about $33, which is a nice lift over phone orders."

'Get on board or get left behind'

Minsky's new website included embedded analytics that allowed the company to gauge customer behavior online, including where they were spending their time.

"We actually became more intimate with our customers via social media and through regular listening to customers through persistent monitoring of online review sites," Johnson said. "We became fluent in email marketing and database management, and learned more about what worked online and what did not."

When executives were comfortable with the marketing pieces, they asked their marketing partner, Level Marketing, to assist them in implementing online ordering.

"It is a necessary evil you have to have today. You either get on board with the technology program, or you get left behind," Johnson said.

Building the OLO tool

The first priority in building the new OLO tool was to ensure compatibility with Minsky's POS system, from SpeedLine. Per SpeedLine's suggestions, they were able to narrow the list down to two backend OLO companies, then called those companies' pizza client references.

"After calling the references, we became much more aware of the current state of the OLO industry — it was very instructive. And since none of those pizza businesses operate in Minsky's service area, they were very forthcoming with information," said Mike Alexander, from Level Marketing.

Negotiations took place and prototypes from each company were put in place at two Minsky's locations. Store managers provided feedback on what was working and what was not.

"It was very important to us that the customer never felt they were leaving Minskys.com when they orders," Alexander said.

It took about five months for both ordering backend sites to go live, and another three months for the OLO vendors to weed out the changes and enhancements. In October, Minsky's and Level Marketing chose Brygid as their provider.

"There were fewer technical issues, attentiveness in service, ability to quickly make changes and a platform that would grow along with Minsky's needs," Alexander said.

Once the provider was solidified, the company worked to expedite the rollout. Today, 14 of 15 Minsky's locations are live with OLO. The 11 company-owned stores are with Brygid, as is a licensee. The other three licensees' locations continue to use a different OLO vendor, through their Firefly POS system integrator.

Studying the big guys

During the test period, the company studied the big chains "thoroughly" to gauge what was needed.

"Our motto was 'if they could do it, we could do it.' Of course, their development budgets are substantial. But we wanted many of the same features the big chains were offering, as consumers have come to expect a certain level of service and features with OLO," Johnson said.

In the end it came down to:

  • Ease of use for the customer;
  • Ability to integrate well with SpeedLine;
  • Database management and analytical reporting;
  • Ability to change menus, test offers and manage/test various online coupons, email marketing and other marketing integration; and
  • Ability to adjust and communicate delivery time expectations to customers during peak order times.

Since the rollout, to further improve the site, Minsky's has added an integrated street-by-street address database so a customer can enter their address and automatically start their online order at the closest location.

There is also a mobile component to the digital overhaul. The new Minskys.com includes a version on a Wordpress platform that recognizes mobile devices and intuitively loads for each device. An Apple app can be downloaded directly from the mobile site to customers' iPhones.

"From a customer-facing perspective, it all just needed to work really, really well," Johnson said. "It needed to be intuitive, reasonably bug-free and customers needed to know their personal data was protected. We wanted the system to save and recall customers and their orders, and to be a faster, better way to get customers what they want. We have a 38-year relationship with our customers and we need to do the right thing when it comes to letting them order as easily as possible."

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social, Online Ordering

Alicia Kelso
Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine. View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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