- Little Caesars, the largest carryout-only pizza chain with more than 4,200 stores in the U.S., on Monday introduced the Pizza Portal, a machine that lets customers pick up pizza orders without waiting in line at a store. Customers need to download the company's mobile app to order and pay for their food, according to a statement.
- The app then receives a 3-digit or QR code that is used to open a self-service hot box at the shop. The device is being introduced in more than a dozen locations in the Tucson, AZ, area. The company plans to add approximately 100 of the devices in stores by the end of the year, with a nationwide rollout next year, USA Today reported.
- The Pizza Portal's technology was co-developed with Apex Supply Chain Technologies, a provider of automated dispensing systems.
Little Caesars clearly recognizes that it needs to make food ordering as convenient a possible, especially since it's a major chain that doesn't provide home delivery. The Pizza Portal replaces in-store payments and allows people to pick up their delivery more quickly. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut updated its mobile app to provide real-time delivery tracking, Domino's has a series of mobile apps that can be integrated with smart-home systems and Papa John's lets customers place food orders directly through its Facebook page.
Food ordering by mobile application, text message and the internet grew 18% in March from a year earlier as consumers sought greater convenience by eating at home rather than at a restaurant, according to market researcher NPD Group. The trend is spurring restaurants to build or improve their apps.
Mobile ordering is growing at a time when overall results are weak, with same-store sales for restaurants falling 1.1% in May from a year earlier, according to data by TDn2K cited by Restaurant News.