One of the hardest hit segments of retail in 2002 has been fast food. The market was already down on September 11 when the whole world fell apart. But some fast food retailers stayed on point right through the dark days of fall, and at NRF in January, Donatos Pizza, a McDonald's subsidiary, announced plans to roll out a new mobile shopping solution with the help of Food.com.
The enterprise-wide solution will allow the chain to offer location-based purchases with the help of mobile and Web site commerce. Consumers will be able to use their computers, PDAs and cell phones to order pizza on the run. Will it work for other retail establishments?
"All sorts of convenience businesses are watching the mobile retail market at this point," says Aaron McCaulif of Networking Group in Washington, DC. "Areas where people do what we once called impulse buying may also benefit." He noted that Barnes & Noble has been one of the early winners in the mobile shopping game.
Yankee Group in Boston estimates the industry will be worth $65 billion within the next five years.
The Donatos project is centered around Food.com's patented Retail Ordering System platform. Food.com is expected to announce similar programs for other retail segments before the summer. With Food.com, the consumer can register their preferences online, even listing their preferred delivery location and storing credit card data on a secured server. When the consumer wants to order pizza on the way home or to another location, he or she can contact their local Donatos through a toll free number, make the order verbally or through keypad input and arrive in time to pick it up. Some locations will even offer delivery.
The system is joined together by Motorola's mobile shopping communications technology and Oracle database technology served up on Sun Microsystems hardware. It is integrated with Java technology.
"We see tremendous value in our relationship with Motorola," says Trevor Fagerskog, CEO of Food.com. He says the technology allows retailers to extend their enterprises geographically.
Food.com, founded in 1996, has more than 6,000 restaurants on its networks including Papa Gino's, Pizzeria Uno and Olive Garden.
"We have been working with Food.com for more than three years," says Ken Hoogstraal, executive director of technology at Donatos. "So when Food.com and Motorola approached us with their new expanded product offering we were very excited."
Founded in 1963, Donatos was acquired by McDonalds in 1999.