Last week, a modern day Paul Revere may have just rode into town carrying a pizza for all retail and CPG to see, shouting, “The retail revolution is coming! The retail revolution is coming!”
That man was Patrick Doyle.
On Wednesday, the Carlyle Group announced that it had formed a partnership with Patrick Doyle, the former Domino’s Pizza President & CEO. The stated purpose of the partnership is “to acquire established companies that have the opportunity for value creation and revenue growth through technological transformation.” The partnership will also, according to reports, “focus on public and private companies with an enterprise value of up to $10 billion.”
You know, chump change.
Actually, far from it. The move is pure baller.
It could be the first shot across the bow in the oncoming retail revolution that is just getting underway. Or, said another way, for all the historians out there — one if by retailer, two if by CPG, or three if by now you think those preceding two terms are entirely irrelevant.
Because, newsflash, they are. And, this move 100% signals why.
While the Doyle/Carlyle Group announcement is only the beginning of so much more to come across the industry, the move itself is important for three key reasons:
#1 – The Lines of Demarcation Between Retail and CPG are Becoming Irrelevant
Take Domino’s Pizza. Is it a brand? Is it a restaurant? Is it a retail establishment? Or all of the above?
Quietly, under many noses, Domino’s Pizza was the first penguin in the water of the direct-to-consumer movement; only Domino’s started doing its business well before the internet.
30-minutes or less was Domino’s marketing handle way back in the 1980s. Now, put that handle into today’s context – does it sound like anything familiar?
It sure as heck does.
It sounds exactly like something Amazon would or will say in just a few years time.
Yet, there lies Domino’s. As thousands upon thousands of digitally-native startups and legacy retailers vie to reach their consumers more quickly and more directly to keep pace with Amazon, Domino’s Pizza has been doing it for decades — and they actually do it all while making pizzas to order too!
The differences between a physical and a digital retail experience are now so few and far between that physical experiences offer little in comparison to the days of yesteryear, especially when evaluated within the economy of one’s own time. The only remaining point of differentiation between a physical and a digital commercial experience is now the sheer experience of being somewhere, and, as pizza delivery and the success and rapid adoption of delivery services, like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats, have shown for awhile now, the value of going somewhere to do something against the next best alternative is not always that compelling.
And, therein lies the rub.
Brands who create their own products no longer need physical outlets. Rather, they just need new ways to connect their products to their consumers faster than ever before and in a manner that fits into their busy-by-the-minute lifestyles. Physical establishments could be a part of that “fit,” but they have to be conceived in the right context. That context no longer by default means on shelves or atop a dining table.
That is the beauty of what Domino’s Pizza is and what so many digitally-native brands and retailers aspire to be. Physicality is becoming far less relevant. Availability is what will win the day.
#2 – Doyle Gets Tech
Domino’s Pizza, under Doyle’s stewardship, became top-of-the-class in terms of tech. According to the Carlyle Group press release, Doyle increased Domino’s share price by over 2,100% during his tenure.
If you have never ordered from the Domino’s app, you should. The app removes so much of the friction in the pizza buying and delivery process, given the points discussed above, that you may soon view it as the gold standard of on demand order fulfillment.
First, you can order a pizza on your schedule without having to talk to anyone. And, let’s face it, ordering pizza by phone is probably a 50/50 toss up (pun intended) as to whether or not you ultimately receive what you think you ordered.
Second, you can easily order or create your own pie, all while seeing personalized promotions of the great deals going on.
Third, you can handle payment electronically, including the tip too, which means no more having to find single dollar bills or standing there awkwardly in front of the delivery person, while writing down the tip on a credit card receipt in front of him or her.
Fourth, and finally, you know where your pizza is every second, via an online pizza tracker and through text messaging updates that tell you where the pizza is in the cooking and delivery process at all times.
It’s place your order, set out the paper plates, and quickly put your kids to bed easy.
The technology, though, is anything but. The technology to bring all this to life is hard.
Really freaking hard.
You can count on one or at most two hands the number of companies that are able to do everything as quickly and as easily as what was just described. Doyle not only knows how to bring this to life, but he also had the vision to get Domino’s Pizza out in front of this trend and its competition in the first place.
Who’s to say he can’t do it again with other brands or even take the concept to levels far beyond what it is today?
#3 – The Pizza Delivery Model is Exactly What the Doctor Ordered
This last point all centers around one question — why can’t CPGs and other quick-service-restaurants be set up to mimic pizza delivery?
Pizzas are made-to-order everywhere across the world, everyday. Why can’t other products be handled the same way? Restaurants do it, only without the delivery infrastructure. So, what’s stopping them? Couldn’t the same thing happen with all the prepared foods and recipe ingredients that sit lonely atop grocery store shelves?
Yes, it absolutely could and should. Domino’s Pizza-style food production and delivery expertise, combined with where the world is going next, indicate that all the above is a real possibility and likely what consumers want too.
Enter autonomous vehicle production and delivery, for example.
There is nothing that says the production facilities of what people consume in the future have to be fixed locations or staffed by human beings anymore. Companies like Robomart and Zume are already challenging convention along these lines. Robomart asks, “Why can’t stores drive themselves to consumers?” (my quotes), while Zume is using robotics to pioneer “baking along the way” to cut delivery times and production issues down even further.
Need more proof? Here is a video that will absolutely blow your mind in terms of where the retail and CPG industries could be headed:
Don’t forget too — $10 billion brand targets give the Carlyle Group and Doyle plenty of room to grow and to experiment within these constructs. It gives them the room to redefine who these companies are, by way of what it means to be a brand and/or a retail establishment, amid a world where the consumer is the channel and expects to be able to obtain anything he or she wants at the press of a button, at any moment he or she desires.
Make no mistake. This revolution is indeed coming, as the lines between CPG, retail, digital, and physical are all blurring. Only this time the revolutionary is not a silversmith, but a pizza boy.
One who likely understands better than anyone — it’s not delivery, it’s the future.