Web Chat: Order a slice online

Pizza online. It's the wave of the future... or is it?

That is the question that faced me this week when I received a call from Lynne Gray, the promotions director at Allpizza.com.

It seems there is a San Francisco-based company that is interested in the idea of home delivery of pizza via a simple Internet ordering system and, of all places to test-market this idea, the company has chosen Reno and Carson City.

With e-commerce in a state of flux, new players to the Internet aren't jumping in head first like their predecessors. Investors want to see profit potential and test markets will pop up from time to time as testing ground for new ideas.

The idea isn't new. Some independents and pizza chains have tried and failed. Allpizza is trying to break that trend. In Reno and Carson city it has made agreements with area franchises in the hopes that a one-stop ordering site can give pizza consumers brand choice. That is to say if the user does not like one company he or she can choose from another. Allpizza will be marketed with the realization that the best ideas in service create convenience for consumers. Said Gray, "The real speed is that there is no holding on the phone." That remains to be seen.

The first step online is to type in an address, zip code and options for take-out or delivery. Then a screen gives you options for different pizzerias that are involved in the agreement. In Carson City, these include Round Table, Pizza Hut and Little Caesar's.

Depending on your choice, a list of available pizzas, sizes and drinks pops up. You choose anchovies, olives or any number of combinations, just like you would on the phone. Choosing from a list gives you the convenience of taking your time ordering instead of trying to coordinate Joe who likes pepperoni or Molly who likes onions. Like traditional phone ordering, their are coupon promotions, in this case e-coupons. Click on the coupon and it changes the ordering screen to accommodate your choice.

Once the user has decided on the pizzas, prices and promotions (one per pizza) type in a credit card number and finalize the order. The pizza should arrive at your door in relatively the same amount of time it takes with a phone order. Cash and check delivery options are also available for those users uncomfortable with the idea of disclosing credit card numbers.

An added feature that should provide convenience for companies that order pizza on a regular basis is an archive that stores the users orders and credit card numbers by way of a password. To order the same thing as last week, type in a password and click a button. That is all it takes. For the very well organized user, advance orders are available.

The company was the brainchild of Peter Sealy, former marketing chief at Coca-Cola and Kevin McCurdy, founder of Bamboo.com. "They are the only one's we know of in e-commerce with a one-page ordering form," Gray said.

As the Internet penetrates the 100 million-user mark in the near future, we can expect to see more services offered through our computers. Even right here in river city.

Questions?Ideas? E-mail at jimscripps@Tahoe.com


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