Domino’s Pizza is launching a Facebook Messenger bot in a bid to engage customers and create a ‘conversational transactional experience’.
The bot, called @DOMThePizzaBot, was created by Domino’s Pizza with We Are Social and Talkbe to allow consumers to place an order simply by messaging the word ‘pizza’.
Facebook opened up its Messenger platform in April this year, allowing brands to display codes that can be scanned by users to start an instant conversation via the one-on-one messenger platform.
A few brands have already tested the technology. Asda’s US parent Walmart experimented with Messenger as a customer service tool last year. More recently, CNN used Messenger to share the news, with readers able to receive personalised and specific stories by messaging CNN with a keyword.
A survey by Myclever Agency, which specialises in social media, found that chat bots were the second most preferred channel of communication with service providers (67%), only beaten by face-to-face (80%) because of convenience and immediacy. Consumers felt most excited that chat bots would lead to 24-hour customer service (68%), quick answers to simple questions (64%) and instant responses (51%).
Domino’s Pizza has a track record for trying to stay abreast of the latest technology. Earlier this year, it launched a new campaign that uses Snapchat lenses and gif creation website Giphy. Meanwhile in Australia, the brand unveiled the world’s first pizza delivery robot, which can travel up to speeds of 20 km per hour and is able to navigate the streets independently.
Nick Dutch, head of marketing at Domino’s Pizza, speaks to Marketing Week about the brand’s plans to create “a conversational transactional experience” using bots and why they are the “next frontier” of ecommerce.
Why is the brand focusing on Facebook Messenger?
There are a number of reasons. With instant messaging (IM) platforms being so ubiquitous already and continuing to grow, it felt to us IM will become one of the next frontiers of ecommerce in Western markets. You only need to look to Asia to understand how they have almost become one stop shop platforms for everything. We chose Messenger specifically due to a combination of the volume of users on the platform and to Facebook being increasingly open to brands developing customer support and transactional bots in their Messenger platform. On the flipside, WhatsApp, while having more users in the UK, is still relatively closed for brands.
Is the brand looking to create a ‘transactional social experience’?
Perhaps a better way of putting it would be a ‘conversational transactional experience’. Consumers are very familiar with using IM for conversations with friends, families or even colleagues, so extending that kind of communication to complete a transaction is a natural progression. For our brand specifically, the bot offers millions of potential combinations (toppings, bases, sizes etc) so using clever step-by-step interactions is a great way of reducing the amount of time a customer spends creating their order. More importantly, it also allows them to stay within the channel they are using every day.
Who is your target audience?
We don’t see this as an opportunity to immediately unlock a new audience. It’s more of an opportunity to make the lives of people who we already reach even easier by allowing them to access our brand and order pizza within their preferred method of communication. In a world where getting consumers to regularly engage with apps is difficult, as they tend to stick to five or 10 ‘go to’ apps, it’s important we develop new strategies to ensure we remain as accessible as possible without assuming everyone will visit our site or download our app for years to come.
“Essentially we are simply adapting to our customers’ behaviours rather than trying to target new customers.”
Nick Dutch, head of marketing, Domino’s Pizza
Is the Messenger bot going to be a permanent fixture for the brand?
It’s too early to make a firm commitment either way, but our intention is to build platforms that make customers’ lives easier. With the continued growth in user base and types of usage with IM platforms, we believe this is an obvious area to meet that objective but also an area where there is much more opportunity to improve and build upon what we have created already. We don’t expect this to be a flash in the pan initiative, that’s for sure!
Is Domino’s Pizza expecting the bot to result in an uplift in sales?
Right now we are in beta mode. We are trialling the usage, understanding customer behaviours and identifying further opportunities. We are not setting ourselves commercial goals for this kind of platform just yet. We have seen from innovations in the past (like our iPhone app in 2010 or the Xbox app in 2012) new platforms do create exceptional value but not necessarily immediately. Similarly, a successful goal of this kind of platform will be to make our current customers lives easier, which doesn’t necessarily translate to a huge surge in sales but an improvement in experience and as a result sentiment towards the brand, which is a longer-term benefit.
What role will it play in the future of ecommerce?
It would be too bold to say IM will be the future of ecommerce but we certainly believe a more instant, conversational and social way of transacting and communicating with customers across a range of platforms will be the future. So IM sits in that bucket alongside the likes of voice, AI and bots to create a very obvious direction of travel for the way consumers will interact with brands and ultimately buy from them in the future. How far we are off from that being the primary model for ecommerce I don’t know, but there is momentum from both brands and consumers, so it is coming.
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