Mobile has the potential to be a valuable sales and marketing channel for fast food restaurants and takeaways, allowing customers to place orders at their convenience, wherever they might be.
Over the weekend, I attempted to place an order with Pizza Hut from my mobile but ended up using Dominos instead. Here's why...
The contrast couldn't be clearer here. While Pizza Hut doesn't have a mobile optimised site or app (in the UK at least), Dominos serves me a page designed for the iPhone, and also offers me the choice of downloading the app.
Here's Pizza Hut's:
Placing an order
Despite the non-optimised site, I decided to place my order via Pizza Hut anyway, since I'd found a voucher code elsewhere. It is just about possible to order from the Pizza Hut website from your mobile, but it's hard work.
I was prepared to put up with some zooming in and out to get the order completed, but it was still more difficult than it needed to be.
There are quite a few Flash elements on the site which just don't work on mobile:
The main problem is that the is so much loading and refreshing of pages to be done that, even if you are prepared to put up with having to zoom in and out, it is incredibly time-consuming.
It took me more than 20 steps (meaning 20 page loads) to select a couple of pizzas and sides to my basket. At this point I'd had enough, and tried Dominos instead.
In the US, Pizza Hut clearly knows what it is doing with mobile. Back in 2009, it launched an iPhone app, reporting $1m in sales and almost 1m downloads after just three months.
Pizza Hut expects mobile to account for 50% of all (US) orders in future, so it's odd that none of this commitment to mobile has made it to the UK.
As a result, its competitor in the UK, Dominos, is much better placed to pick up sales from the UK's mobile users.
How it should be done
Dominos automatically redirects users to its mobile site from search engines, and the whole ordering process is much easier.
Links and calls to action are clear, it is possible to add and remove toppings easily, while useful navigational aids like this save users time:
Payment is easy enough too, with forms optimised for mobile:
This is a fight that Dominos wins hands down, just because it has a mobile strategy in the UK. Not only is the Pizza Hut site not optimised, but it is incredibly difficult to use on a mobile.
Some e-commerce sites can be OK to use on mobile, if they have a simple layout and clear links and calls to action, but Pizza Hut is not one of them.
By contrast, Dominos has created a good mobile user experience, and this is part of the reason for the company increasing its online sales by 63% to £128m in 2010.
The Dominos iPhone app has had more than 400,000 downloads and brought in more than £1m in sales since it was launched last August.
Given the potential for driving sales via mobile, and the fact that Pizza Hut is already using mobile so effectively in the US, it is puzzling that the company has not so far applied this to the UK market.