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Papa John's generates $1M in mobile Web sales

Pizza chain Papa John's International Inc. has generated more than $1 million in sales from mobile Web orders in less than six months after offering that option to consumers.

The milestone comes after Papa John's earlier this year crossed more than $1 billion in overall online sales -- up from $400 million in 2007 -- and launched a Facebook page that quickly attracted 175,000-plus fans in less than a week. The mobile commerce push led to the introduction yesterday of an iPhone site for Papa John's.

"It tells us that consumers are changing," said Bob Ford, director of digital marketing at Papa John's, Louisville, KY. "We really live in a world of convenience where people have that cell phone with them all the time.

"And if that's the most convenient mechanism, whether they want to dial the number or visit the mobile Web site, we really need to be there and present the opportunity," he said.

Mobile delivers
Created in July, Papa John's mobile Web ordering system enables pizza lovers to set up an account and place orders directly from their Web-capable mobile devices.

The mobile site is accessible at, or users can follow the online link to the mobile site from the Papa John's wired Web site at

In addition to placing orders, the mobile site also features the entire Papa John's menu, special offers, account registration and a restaurant locator.

Pizza enthusiasts can use their pre-existing account log-in information from, as well as create new ones directly from their handsets.

The site also allows customers to sign up for special offers that can be sent to either their email inbox or mobile phone.

WiseOutlook, Tallahassee, FL, created the mobile Web and text message ordering systems and the iPhone site for Papa John's.

"As these devices are getting more powerful browsers, we're able to take advantage and offer upgraded features and better designs," said Richard Wise, vice president of operations at wiseOutlook.

"People are taking advantage of instant gratification on the go," he said. "It's really fascinating to see how people are using the mobile devices. Some of them are really mobile browsers used occasionally as phones.

"People are using your site. Let's optimize it for the mobile device."

Apple pie
Papa John's is the world's third-largest pizza chain, competing with Yum Brands' Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza.

The company is making serious investments in interactive technology.

The new iPhone site, for example, was born of the realization that consumers were ordering pizza from the regular Papa John's Web site through the iPhone browser.

That knowledge led to the creation of an iPhone application with optimized menus, entry fields and graphics.

Also, the restaurant locator has a link to Google Maps for users to find the address of a Papa John's restaurant and also to click to a map for directions.

To make it easier to order, the iPhone site has a Papa John's short cut icon connected directly to the main mobile Web ordering system, according to the company.

"Mobile is an incredibly important part of the overall strategy," Mr. Ford said. "We view that channel just as we do any other channel -- from our phone ordering system to our online system, mobile is equally important.

"It's letting the consumer choose how they want to communicate with us," he said. "Our theory is we're not telling customers how to order. We're listening to them and providing the channels that they're requesting."

One of the advantages that mobile ordering shares with online is the ability for consumers to see the full menu.

Regular Johns
Interestingly, products ordered through Papa John's mobile Web ordering system look the same as those ordered online, on phone or in store.

"It's pizza, cheese sticks, it's drinks," Mr. Ford said. "The average order size -- it's roughly $20."

Are the mobile consumers any different from online, phone or restaurant walk-ins?

"Surprisingly enough, it's not what you think," Mr. Ford said. "It's not that 18-to-25-year-old demographic that most people would assume. It really spans all demographics.

"We have as large an ordering group in the 35-44 age group as we do in the 18-24 and 25-34," he said. "Most people just assume that it's a younger demographic and they are after smaller items.

"I think what might be unusual is that it may be a pretty representative customer. This is the traditional Papa John's customer."

Top that
Papa John's focus on using interactive channels may be paying off.

The company claims that more than 20 percent of all sales come online or via SMS text, widget or smartphones. There is a belief within the company that these channels might someday surpass traditional telephone orders.

In line with that thinking, Papa John's will be leveraging its existing assets to promote its mobile ordering system.

For example, Papa John's pizza boxes and box toppers next year may include the 4PAPA (47272) common short code and a keyword on them.

Also, the chain will use the mobile channel to market its mobile offerings.

"We're actually going to buy some mobile advertising, whether it's mobile search or banners," Mr. Ford said.