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Top 50 Q&A: Michael Gillespie, Domino’s Pizza

Welcome to our weekly Q&A with Internet Retailing’s 2019 Top 50 People in E-Commerce. You can find this year’s Top 50 report here, and see our previous Q&As here.

This week, Internet Retailing interviews Michael Gillespie, group chief digital and technology officer of Domino’s Pizza. Gillespie placed 27th in this year’s report.

Short on time? Here are the three key takeaways from the interview:

  • Domino’s has a “fail fast, fail forward” mentality that drives its innovation.
  • Online growth has allowed staff to spend more time making pizzas, rather than taking orders.
  • Domino’s is currently working on the next generation of its delivery drone.

Internet Retailing: What does an average day at Domino’s look like for you?

Michael Gillespie: While no two days are the same at Domino’s, every morning I always start by looking at the results of our platforms before exploring new ideas, tackling challenges and delivering solutions.

At Domino’s, we have a ‘fail fast, fail forward’ mentality, which means that if something isn’t working as we envisaged or delivering the results that we want, we change it up almost instantly.

This means we are constantly learning, innovating and evolving, which is both challenging and exciting.

My main focus is on ensuring our technology and digital systems are performing the best they can, as well as making sure that the team have a clear strategy and the necessary tools and resources to execute it.

IR: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a distinct focus from Domino’s on improving the online delivery experience, with Don Meij having previously said he wants Domino’s to be the “Internet of Food in every neighbourhood”. How important is perfecting this to Domino’s, and what effect has this had on the future of the business?

MG: Our vision is to lead the internet of food in every neighbourhood and that starts with improving the online ordering experience. The more seamless and enjoyable the experience, the more people will naturally gravitate to the platform.

We’re already seeing a huge shift in behaviour, with online sales for the Group up 16.5 per cent to $934.3 million for the six months to December 30, 2018. H1 2019 saw 32.4 million orders via digital channels across the group.

The more online orders we receive, the less time our staff spend taking orders over the phone; allowing them to focus their attention on the execution of the product.

Technology has always been a key focus for the business, and I anticipate this will only increase over the coming years as we work to bring our vision to life.

IR: We’ve also seen Domino’s pushing into new areas, such as implementing an AR pizza making experience and toying with drone-powered delivery in New Zealand. How many of these ideas end up getting scrapped before being tested, and how many make it through testing to actually being implemented?

MG: At Domino’s, we pride ourselves on making data-driven decisions. That means that before we invest time and money into an idea, we look at testing and validating it through quantifiable or qualifiable data and ‘pre’-totyping solutions until we have a demonstrated demand.

We don’t keep a tally of successes and failures, but instead focus on keeping momentum, rolling out new technologies and challenging ourselves to find better and more efficient ways to do things.

IR: Speaking of the AR Pizza Chef, how has that feature been received? Are you seeing customers using the feature, and if so, has it changed the kinds of orders Domino’s is receiving? What has been learned since it was rolled out?

MG: Innovations like the New Pizza Chef with Augmented Reality are important as they help us to drive online sales, and make the online ordering experience more seamless, rewarding and memorable for our customers.

The feature, while still relatively new, was met with anticipation and excitement from our customers and we saw a lift in app downloads after its launch.

I can’t share the sales it has driven as we don’t normally share this level of detail for commercial reasons, but we are proud to have delivered a true world-first in pizza.

IR: Now that drone delivery has been given the green light in Australia, are we likely to see drone-powered Domino’s delivery locally soon?

MG: Our work in the drone delivery space remains active and ongoing. We are currently working with Flirtey on the next-generation drone designs to deliver larger Domino’s orders and to more customers than the original drone world-first.

This is a new and exciting space, and we’re excited about the possibilities it will bring to our customers, so stay tuned for more updates on this in future.

IR: What are the challenges with implementing technology such as this? What are some of the unexpected roadblocks you’ve run into?

MG: At Domino’s, we are passionate about being across technology trends while keeping perspective of our customers’ and team members’ needs.

There’s always going to be roadblocks and challenges when implementing a new form of technology, as there is no blueprint for how to do this. For us, the focus is on making sure we don’t lose sight of the customer tension point we are trying to solve.

When there is no off-the-shelf technology solution for this, there will always be trial and error getting there, but the advantage is that you’ll be the first mover – just like we were when we entered the online ordering space more than a decade ago.

IR: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything upcoming in the business to look out for?

MG: We have some significant new digital technologies planned to launch this year, including a new mobile ordering app and Domino’s Pizza Checker to help our team members deliver the perfect pizza to our customers.

We expect this to deliver the biggest product quality innovation to date through improved product consistency; working alongside our team members to ensure every single pizza going out the door is as good as the last.

We also have a lot of new and exciting ideas in the pipeline and will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible for our customers.

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