Pizza Hut has an unlikely new inspiration.
The chain is rolling out new digital tools that are inspired by tech startups, like Uber.
The pizza chain is officially launching "Visible Promise Time," which allows customers to see what time their pizzas will be prepared, ready, and delivered before they place their order, the company has announced in a release.
On top of that, the chain is testing a service that allows customers to track the exact location of their pizza by tracking the delivery driver’s GPS location.
"I think what we’re going though is … the 'Uber-ization' of our customer experience," Pizza Hut’s Chief Digital Officer, Baron Concors, told Business Insider. "A lot of people think Uber really transformed the transportation industry, but I think they’ve really transformed commerce."
Imagining Pizza Hut through the lens of Uber, Visible Promise Time is similar to Google Maps estimated time, allowing customers to plan their schedule around their pizza pick-up or delivery before even placing their order. The GPS tracker is even more analogous, with visuals that seem instantly familiar to any Uber user.
According to the company, this will be the first time a pizza chain has introduced an estimated timeline prior for customers to placing the order.
Pizza Hut has tested Visible Promise Time for the last several months, with the company slowly rolling out the service starting in late January. Customers have responded enthusiastically to the increased transparency, says Concors.
The pizza chain has recently doubled down making purchasing and delivering pizza easier, with Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed saying in the company’s most recent earnings call last week that the chain’s new motto is "easy beats better." The concept came to Pizza Hut managementlast year when Pizza Hut executives realized the chain had focused too much on making pizza that customers enjoyed, instead of cutting delivery time, according to the Associated Press.
"We’re always brainstorming on innovation and ideas to make the experience easier," said Concors. "I think part of 'easy' is how we bring that authenticity and transparency to our consumers."
For pizza chains, making things easy for customers has become closely tied with new technology, like Visible Promise Time. Pizza Hut reports that 46% of delivery and carry-out orders at the chain come through digital channels; competitors Papa John’s and Domino’s reports more than half of sales are from digital.
With such a thriving digital business, much of the recent innovation in the pizza industry has been tech-focused. Domino's has tested options such as a "no touch" ordering app, as well as a rolling delivery robot in Australia. Technology is crucial to getting ahead in the pizza industry, with most executives (Concors included) convinced that there is no limit to how much digital sales can grow in the near future.
To keep up with the increasingly tech-centric competition, Concors says that Pizza Hut is focusing on personalization and ease of ordering.
So far, the strategy of simplicity has been working for the chain. Pizza Hut reported that United States same-stores sales grew 5% in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, due to in part, according to Concors, to increased customer loyalty thanks to new tech innovation.