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Domino’s Tablet Testing: Make The App Into A Game

Written by Evan Schuman
June 21st, 2012

One of the challenges with a mobile app is figuring out if customers will actually use it. Domino’s has tackled that challenge by launching its app first as a game. Not only does this approach give a strong indication of customer interest—pre-rollout—but it also is a practical way to debug. And if the initial version is buggy? Customers are much more tolerant of a buggy game than something with true E-Commerce functionality.

Domino’s had an additional challenge: this is an app for tablets, combining screen space close to that of a desktop with the touchscreen of a tablet. What the pizza chain came up with is a way for consumers to make their own pizzas, with the touch intensity and finger distance used dictating how the dough will come up, whether the slices are cut uniformly and how evenly distributed toppings are. It’s a game—for now.

“Tablets are on an ever-increasing trajectory,” said Dennis Maloney, Domino’s VP for multimedia marketing. “Consumers are going to expect a different experience with a different form factor.”

This game, called Pizza Hero, is indeed just a game. But there are very practical elements at play here. From a “what can it do?” perspective, this is an easy way to test how effective the tablet’s touchscreen is for tactile tasks. From a “what are consumers willing to do?” perspective, the game provides ton of concrete feedback.

Maybe this could be a fun way to order complicated pizzas in the future, such as “two slices with pineapple, three slices with pepperoni, one slice with extra cheese.” Will customers bother? Will they actually find it fun? What better way to discover the answers than through a game?

For complex orders, could this approach be more efficient than choosing from multiple categories and then still not getting it right? Back in the human-filled kitchen, might a high-resolution picture of what the customer wants make orders more accurate? Could this support eventual automation, with machinery dropping the toppings precisely as the customer did?


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4 Comments | Read Domino’s Tablet Testing: Make The App Into A Game

  1. Greg Lucas Says:

    Customers want to order – not play a game. My favorite part of this ad campaign is when Domino’s says “if you are good enough we will offer you a job.” How many of their potential employees own an iPad? 1?

  2. Evan Schuman Says:

    On the specific point you’re making–how many of their potential employees own an iPad?–it’s not that cut and dry. Beyond that it could be any tablet (many Android tablets cost a lot less), the potential applicant need not own it. If you expand it to anyone who has a family member–or a friend or relative–who has a tablet, the universe becomes a lot larger. Anyone can go into an Apple store (or some of their distribution partners, although Apple is more lenient than others) and play with an iPad there. It’s therefore not as limiting as you suggest.
    But that’s not really the point. I doubt it’s seen as a recruitment tool any more than it’s a training system. It’s goal is to test how people interact with such an app and whether indeed they will interact with it at all. It’s market testing. Looked at from that perspective, it’s a pretty powerful effort.
    As for customers wanting to order, not play a game, agreed. But the functionality to order is still there, so this shouldn’t take away from it. And this could help refine future new ways to order.

  3. Greg Lucas Says:

    I see. You think when people use a friend / relative’s tablet or go into the apple store they will prioritize playing the Domino’s game over the thousands of better / real games available.

  4. Evan Schuman Says:

    Thanks, Greg, and no, I don’t think many will do that. But was merely pointing out that the universe of people who could do this game is larger than the universe of people who personally own Apple or Android tablets. Have personally witnessed a lot of people in their early 20s playing games on the iPads of friends or family members. That all said, this very debate is the point. This is a nice–relatively low cost–technique to help Domino’s determine if customers are likely to use this or not. If the game does well despite the limits on the number of available tablets, it will indicate strong interest and openness to this approach. And if hardly anyone bothers to try it–or they try it once and never try again–that’s great info, too.

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