Always on the forefront of pizza technology, Domino’s announced Tuesday that it will be teaming up with Microsoft to “create the next generation of pizza ordering and store operations with generative AI-technology and cloud computing power.” Domino’s already uses Microsoft as its primary cloud provider and said it has been experimenting with data and AI capabilities to “make store operations smarter, simpler and more robust.”
Notably, in order to modernize Domino’s storefronts, Microsoft will be helping to develop a generative AI assistant powered by Azure Open AI Service. The assistant will streamline day-to-day managerial tasks, such as inventory management, ingredient ordering and staff scheduling. It will also help with pizza preparation, quality control and generally freeing store managers up to dedicate more time to team members and the customer-service experience.
“We are thrilled to co-innovate with Microsoft using Azure AI technology to advance the future of pizza ordering and store technology powered by secure, connected data and simplified processes,” said Kelly Garcia, Domino’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Our collaboration over the next five years will help us serve millions of customers with consistent and engaging ordering experiences, while supporting our corporate stores, franchisees and their respective team members with tools to make store operations more efficient and reliable.”
Domino’s and Microsoft will establish an Innovation Lab, pairing both companies’ leaders with engineers in order to accelerate time-to-market for smart store- and ordering-innovations that the brand hopes will keep it on the cutting edge of technology. Both companies said they are committed to responsible AI practices that protect customer data and privacy. They also said that the changes are a necessary step toward accommodating rapidly evolving consumer preferences.
“Generative AI has emerged as a game changer for meeting new demands and transforming the customer experience,” said Shelley Bransten, Microsoft corporate vice president, global retail, consumer goods and gaming industries. “Through our strategic partnership, Domino’s continues to be a customer-first leader in the quick service restaurant industry. There is no better or more integrated platform than the Microsoft Cloud for delivering an AI-enhanced and connected experience that will drive loyalty and engagement for millions of customers, franchisees and employees.”
Domino’s plans to begin piloting the AI-driven tools in about six months.
But the pizza chain is far from the first to adopt AI technology, and not all chains are enjoying equal success with it. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, owned by BurgerFi International, announced in September that its pilot of an AI-driven phone answering system, called “Becky,” was a bust with customers. Becky got the boot after less than a year. “Our guests have told us loud and clear that they want to speak with a human when placing orders,” BurgerFi CEO Carl Bachmann said. “Technology is critical for innovation, but AI for guest service was not providing an exceptional experience for our guests….We want our guests to know we welcome them back—and their calls!”
In Idaho, Flying Pie Pizzaria began testing conversational AI for taking orders over the phone last spring at all seven locations. Flying Pie owner Florian Penalva was feeling pretty optimistic about the system at the time. “We want to capture every phone order at peak times, and right now we can’t,” he said. “But with a cashier in the cloud that knows our entire menu front to back and that can place an order in just a few seconds, we can both increase the number of calls answered and the speed at which orders are placed. We have all reason to believe this is going to work.”
Meanwhile, Jet’s Pizza, the Detroit-style chain headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan, started testing AI for online orders in the fall of 2019. As of last November, the company had received more than $100 million in orders through its AI system.