Would You Order Food By Text Messaging?
Over the last few years there has been great buzz surrounding text messaging and how businesses can use it to market. Less emphasis has been put on how businesses can use it to actually carry out their business. However, Papa John’s, a popular national pizza chain, has found a way to use text messaging – to order your pizza.
Papa John’s already accepts online orders, and the neat thing about them and the text message orders is that they both appear on the same screen at the store – integrating methods of ordering. This integration technology is key, since the number one reason why most restaurants today don’t offer texting or online orders is because of the hassle to manage those orders, and the additional hardware that is generally needed.
In fact, when you go to small town pizza shops you find that many don’t even have fax machines to accept orders. The majority of these shops were formed by individuals who don’t see technology as a tool to increase business, rather as a stumbling block to avoid whenever possible.
Will text messaging orders become widespread?
I believe the usefulness of text messaging an order will depend largely on the type of food. The more menu options you have, and the more diverse the types of food you offer, the less likely text messaging orders is to stick with customers. Papa John’s for instance, has just a few main sizes of pizza pies, and common “deals” that customers get. Since most people send text messages on the go, it is unlikely for a patron to recall complex menu items or be willing to type it into the tiny phone screen.
Additionally, pizza is largely a “lazy” food. By that I mean people tend to order pizza to avoid doing work (making their own food). You order pizza when you are watching TV. You order pizza when you are having a bunch of friends over and don’t want to cook. And text messaging is also a lazy action – you could have just called, or went online, or visited the store. A great match. Marketing often fails when it isn’t consistent from start to finish. So it becomes important to consider the type of food your restaurant offers before jumping onto the text message ordering bandwagon. Are your customers usually coming in and sitting? They probably aren’t lazy; they drove all the way to your restaurant to eat.
Third, you should consider the undeniable aspect of technology – it strikes the youth first. So if your food establishment serves younger people, you are more likely to have success with text message ordering because they are the most likely segment of the population to know how to use the text messaging features on their phones.
As phones become easier and easier to type on (such as on the iPhone), it will require less effort and time to send text messages, which will increase the usage of text message ordering.
The potential problem with text messaging an order becoming common is quite strange, actually. Cell phones received a huge push forward technology-wise during the last few months, with phones like the Apple iPhone, LG Voyager, and several copycat phones coming out offering real web browsing. Within a few years most cell phone owners are likely to have web access, and will probably prefer to make a mobile web food order, rather than text message it. Domino’s Pizza recently caught onto this little paradigm shift and started offering mobile web pizza ordering.
Time Saver Appeal
A certain portion of Americans are what we call efficiency nuts. I must confess, I am one too. What this means is we hate to waste time. If we’re on a train, we’ll read, we’ll check email, we’ll network…but we just won’t sit still.
We hate to wait for food to be ready, and hate long checkout lines. The potential for using text messages to send our order in advance of getting home, or avoiding a long phone order process (they always find a way to mix up my name), is the most tempting part for us. It will make us lifetime customers.
While it will likely take a while for text messaging your order to be a normal feature at your neighborhood restaurants, Papa John’s first step into that direction will surely pressure other fast food establishments to test out similar technology in an effort to stay current and relevant to customers.