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A New System is Born



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October 07th, 2020

In this blog, we’re talking about gaining power and control—which may be fitting, given those are two things it is hard to feel we’ve got this year. 

You see, you couldn’t always order pizza directly from dimospizza.com.

We had a website, of course. But if you went to dimospizza.com in 2011, instead of the menu you’re used to seeing, you’d click a referral link that would take you to Grubhub, and you’d order through their platform. We were wholly dependent on them for nearly every part of the customer experience, and we paid for it.

We first built our online ordering system in 2012. Back then, we did the math and saw that the amount of money we would save if we routed all our deliveries through an internal system, rather than paying a third party (just Grubhub at the time), was equal to the cost of building our own site. Save money, own the thing, make a better experience for all? Why wouldn’t we?

The site launched in 2013 and it was an immediate hit. We already had a decent amount of web traffic, which we were routing to Grubhub via a referral link. Swapping that link out for our own internal ordering system drove traffic to our internal site instead. We added a few features: in 2014, a management app so our team could manage inventory and orders on the backend; ApplePay in 2015; and now this update. More about that in a moment.

While we operated our own platform, we also watched as venture capital money poured into restaurants and food delivery. Uber, Doordash, Caviar, Grubhub, Postmates….the playing field soon got a lot more crowded—and more competitive. 

For quite some time we ignored this trend. We had our own platform, which gave us an advantage. But it is impossible to understate what millions and millions of dollars of marketing budget will do. Venture capitalists will do what venture capitalists will do—it is, after all, in their name. 

Spurred on by the success of scorched earth capitalism, third party ordering platforms hiked their commissions higher and higher. We continued to have relationships with them, some of whom were withholding more than 20% of each sale as their payment, but gave our love and attention to dimospizza.com.

Fast forward to today. 

If the old platform was working, why spend time on a new platform? Well, the answer to that was easy. It would provide a better experience for our amazing crustomers. That’s the reason we do almost everything. We listen to what you want and we try to provide it. 

To undertake this task, we leveraged our relationship with Ruca, a global design co-op. They helped us conceive, design and ultimately bring to life an ordering experience that was better in almost every way. Now, creating unique customer software can be painfully slow, but we wanted to move quickly. Sure, we could have grabbed an out of the box solution, like Shopify, or even used some of the tools our POS provides. But where’s the fun? Where’s the innovation? Nah—go big or go home! 

So we began. Working with Ruca was an absolute blast. Our designer was English, based just north of London, and our development team was Nepali, primarily based in Kathmandu. Every Monday morning (or afternoon in England and evening in Nepal), we got together across the world to talk about pizza. 

We won’t lie. It was a little rough at first. We experienced what were probably a lot of the same troubles anyone has these days, trying to figure out working relationships over a computer, having never met in person. But after a few jokes and some sessions under our belt, we jived. 

One of the most interesting and unexpected things we gained from this experience was the personalities and views of people living a life wholly different from ours, yet facing the same challenges and struggles. There is a lot of division right now in this world, especially in the USA, but connecting around the world to solve the simple problem of how someone orders their pizza was especially uplifting.

Together, we made wireframes and went through the UX, built out designs, brought the front end to life and connected it with our CMS on the backend to make everything work seamlessly. 

Our focus was on delivering a better menu exploration experience. One that provides a much better understanding of what’s in your cart as you shop and a menu that’s easier to explore, rather than one long webpage. 

We also placed the coupon code entry much earlier in the ordering process, so it’s easier for you to use and be sure that you’ve used it. Lastly, we wanted our crustomers to get exactly what you want, so we added a few custom fields where you can tell us how you want your food prepared. Want to put onions on half that pizza? Let us know! 

But you can’t build something and expect it to be perfect. So we put it to the test. We reached out to those who love us most: you! We set up user testing to gather direct feedback about how the platform worked (or didn’t work). We recorded and studied those sessions, reconsidered all our assumptions, and made more tweaks until we felt as good about the system as we do about our pizza!

Lastly, we taught our whole team how this new system worked so that one of our crustomer called they’d know how to help.

We’ve got a few more ideas in the pipeline and this time we’re not going to wait 5 years, we’re starting right now. In fact...it’s cooking! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to see a feature come to life? Tell us about it! Email us at tech@dimospizza.com.

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