Sunday, March 5, 2023

What’s Driving Independent Pizzerias Current Wave of Success


Say hello to local, branded, technology. If you have a local independent restaurant with a local following and you are growing top-line sales, bottom-line profits, and year over year customer counts there is a very good chance that you have integrated technology that helped you level the playing filed between you and national chain restaurants. 

That according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® who stated, it’s not just pizzerias that are adopting new technology at a completive rate, there are a growing number of independent family restaurants, and independent fast food outlets doing the same and all garnering new customers.

Tested and proven off the ‘self’ online ordering software applications are now cost effective for independent restaurants. They are kinda like the Microsoft Office package for home users, friendly, efficient, affordable.  

Did you know that same-store sales at both Domino’s and Papa John’s rose just 1% in the fourth quarter and were flat in 2022 overall? The slowdown has largely been chalked up to changes in consumer behavior.  What we know is that behavior of our consumers has changed.

They like technology, they like hand held marketing, the like payment apps, they like online ordering. Here is an example of just what we are talking about. Ilir Sela, CEO and founder of pizza tech company Slice, sees something different happening. 

“There’s definitely no pizza fatigue,” he said. “I think pizza’s a staple. I don’t know that there’s a fatigue and I don’t know that people are flocking to order pizza every day. It has been and it will be hopefully a once a week habit.”

Slice, which provides technology, marketing and other tools for more than 19,000 independent pizzerias, said operators in its network are still going strong and even taking share from the big players.

Average order values at Slice restaurants are up 4% to 5% year over year in 2023, and online order volume is up 15% to 20%, he said. Delivery makes up a majority of those sales and has not wavered.

“I think that’s a very healthy environment. That’s an amazing environment,” he said.

He believes that indies’ embrace of technology like online ordering and digital marketing has helped level the playing field between big and small players. He noted that Slice’s network alone is about as large as all the pizza chains combined.

“I think they’re taking share from the big chains,” Sela said

Indeed, indie shops are growing while chains are slowing. A record 4,800 new independent pizza shops opened in 2022, a 12.5% increase, Sela said, citing data from PMQ’s annual Pizza Power Report. Pizza chain openings, meanwhile, were flat year over year, with 222 new stores. PMQ called it a “mini-boom” for independents.

“At some point, the big chains, Domino’s, they’re going to reach saturation,” Sela said. “When the supply is too strong, the demand is gonna level off.” 

Sela founded slice in 2015 to help support New York pizzerias, including the one owned by his family. Eight years later, the strength of the company and independent pizza in general has Slice thinking big—like IPO big.  

“We’re excited about getting to a point where we scale and we’re executing like a public company,” Sela said. “It wouldn’t be this year, but I hope over the next 12 to 18 months that we’ve earned the right to operate as a public company.”

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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