Pizza goes digital as more customers go online to place pie orders

PCs and pizza are a natural pairing. After all, a lot of pizza went into the building of Silicon Valley.

PCs and pizza are a natural pairing. After all, a lot of pizza went into the building of Silicon Valley.

So perhaps it isn’t too surprising that a report from Cornell University reveals that online ordering is catching on fast with pizza customers.

In research sponsored by Cornell and the trade magazine Nation’s Restaurant News, the electronic ordering practices of the top 326 U.S.-based restaurant chains were analyzed. The results showed that fast-casual restaurants, especially pizza chains, led the trend with just under half now accepting orders online. Sandwich shops also were at the forefront.

Quick-service restaurants were next, with a little over one-fifth accepting online orders, following by casual-dining chains and mid-scale full-service chains.

Study co-author Sheryl E. Kimes, a Cornell University professor of operations management, was surprised at the prevalence of online ordering and was particularly interested in the growth of multi-restaurant ordering sites like grubhub.com and snapfinger.com. Also growing are online ordering providers like ONOSYS.

She said earlier research showed that once customers tried online ordering they were more likely to continue to use it, so “it’s only going to get bigger.”

For restaurants, taking orders online is an additional distribution channel, reduces costs and helps them make better use of their production capacity.

At Pizza Hut, online ordering started about seven years ago, said Baron Concors, chief technology officer for the chain, and “it’s been seeing phenomenal growth year over year.”