PizzaRev: Standing Out in a Crowd
In its PizzaRev case study series, CSA Online offers an insider’s look at the conception, initial rollout and growth of the southern Calif.-based fast-casual concept PizzaRev. Likened to “the Chipotle of pizza,” this innovative chain lets customers choose from an artisanal array of toppings to craft their own pizzas very quickly in a high-end stone hearth oven. A test kitchen in Northridge, Calif., was launched in April 2012 and two additional locations quickly followed.
In part six of our series, PizzaRev’s senior management team, Irv Zuckerman and Rodney Eckerman, and exclusive broker and X Team International Partner Bob Haas, review the fast casual restaurant growth in 2013 and how PizzaRev adapted to increased pressures and competition, as well as their plans for the new year.
Quick Facts about PizzaRev:
What: Fast-casual, “craft your own” artisanal pizza restaurant
Who: Partners and Co-CEOs Rodney Eckerman and Irv Zuckerman, Partner and COO Nicholas Eckerman, Partner and CMO Jeff Zuckerman, Exclusive Broker Bob Haas, X Team International Partner and Co-Founder of L.A.-based Cypress Retail Group
Current number of stores: 5
Average size: 2,000 sq. ft. – 3,000 sq. ft.
Making the full swing into 2014, a quick review of the customized pizza space, and the fast casual food space, is in order. In the last year or so, the growth and literal explosion of new fast casual food concepts has hit the market with a bang. While many of these concepts have come and gone, those that have succeeded have something in common — an entrée item that is well-known and craveable.
“Fast casual really shows no signs of slowing down,” said Haas. “According to a report by Technomic, fast casual sales increased 13% in 2013 and continue to outperform quick-service and full-service establishments. They posted strong gains even while the rest of the industry was having a more difficult time.”
Concepts like PizzaRev that have been able to successfully incorporate America’s favorite foods with a few good twists are finding the most success in today’s market. The outline of coming up with a concept seems simple when writing it out: 1. Give the customers a full choice of options that are visible to them as they order; 2. Charge one price for any or all of those options; 3. Serve it to customers FAST. Turns out, it’s not that simple. But, that didn’t seem to stop fast casual growth in 2013.
Any industry veteran knows that new concepts that show promise can expect an increase in competitors with similar concepts vying for business. In the fast casual pizza space, major players like Chipotle and California Pizza Kitchen have announced or opened concepts in the last year.
Zuckerman maintains a positive perspective on the increased competition, commenting, “We have seen some major players enter the market, but we don’t see this as a threat. It can only broaden the acceptance of this new concept and potentially add more innovation, which should ultimately sharpen everyone’s skills.”
As new concepts catch on, the customer evolution has also become apparent. This can be looked at as an opportunity or threat for retailers. For those who have been in the same space for a long time, it can be an unwelcome change. Casual dining restaurants, slow-make pizza restaurants, as well as the "big box" delivery segment are being pushed to become more innovative and offer better prices and better products. In the end the consumer wins, and all of the restaurants are forced to put their best foot forward.
For Eckerman and Zuckerman, the customer evolution has presented a welcomed opportunity. “People want to feel that they are being engaged from first impression to last,” said Zuckerman. “Our model begins by giving everyone a strong sense that an investment has been made to make them feel that the experience will be a special one.”
Concepts like PizzaRev have the power to completely change the way things have been done for years. PizzaRev took the traditional pizza experience and gave it a fresh and accessible image — giving pizza lovers the chance to have gourmet pizza during a quick lunch break or on the go. Having the confidence and believing their concept would ultimately shift the pizza paradigm for years to come has been a driving force for Eckerman and Zuckerman through the process of building PizzaRev.
Moving into the new year, they will continue to focus on new ideas and optimizing PizzaRev’s processes. With more corporate stores and new franchise openings on the immediate horizon, their focus for 2014 will continue to be on how to maximize customer experience by maintaining consistency at each store.
Click here for past case study entries.
NRF 2014: Seamless, Mobile and RFID Shine
As always, the NRF Conference & Exposition went by in a blur, but looking back on three jam-packed days of industry insight and networking, a few trends kept coming up again and again. Seamless retail, full mobilization of customers and employees, and item-level RFID tagging stood out as topics of interest among exhibitors and attendees. Following are a few thoughts about each of these trends that will help shape the direction of retail in the year ahead.
Seamless Retailing – Moving Beyond Omni-channel
The retail industry has by and large reached the “acceptance” stage in dealing with the death of the channel. Omni-channel means unifying your different channels into a single, coherent customer experience. But your customers no longer recognize the existence of channels. To the average modern consumer, clicking on an item on a mobile site is indistinguishable from picking it up on a store shelf. It’s all part of the same blended virtual/physical experience consumers have come to know in every other aspect of their lives and now expect when they shop.
There is no generally accepted term for this post-omni-channel retail model yet. The situation is reminiscent of the first decade of this century, which still does not really have a name. “Seamless retailing” was a phrase frequently heard at NRF, however, and it is an accurate description.
Mobile Goes Where the Customer (or Associate) Goes
Ubiquitous mobility, both for customer- and employee-facing applications, is a subset of the seamless retailing trend important enough to warrant its own category. Mobile devices have become the de facto platform for supporting how people live, work and shop, and retailers are responding to this paradigm shift. Most retailers now develop websites with either a “mobile first” or responsive design strategy that ensures an optimized mobile customer experience, and many also enhance the seamless aspect of their store environment with features such as mobile self-checkout and expanded product information available via mobile barcode or QR code scan.
In addition, retailers are increasingly recognizing the value of providing store employees with mobile devices. Using smartphones and tablets, store associates can enhance the customer experience with services such as targeted upselling and cross-selling, “endless aisle” access to complete chainwide inventory, and line-busting instant checkout.
RFID Finds a Purpose
Back in August, I wrote a column stating the use case for RFID in retail was finally becoming clearer. Since that time, the use case has crystallized. RFID has found its purpose in retail, and it is as a means of tracking high-value items in the store. Item-level tagging lets retailers more accurately track inventory, maintain security, and also perform better customer service.
At least two major vendors were displaying RFID-based solutions that give retailers real-time insight into what items customers bring in and out of the dressing room, and also help customers request alternate sizes, styles, etc. from store associates without having to go back on the store floor. Pallet-level tagging of less expensive items for supply chain management continues, but does not look like it will serve as the primary value proposition that drives more widespread adoption of RFID in retail.
Starbucks launches app update in wake of security concerns
Seattle — Starbucks Coffee Co. announced that it has rolled out an updated version of its mobile app for iOS which provides “added layers” of protection. The company said it encourage customers to download the update as an additional safeguard measure.
The news comes after reports surfaced that the chain’s mobile app was not secure and leaves users vulnerable. In a letter posted on Starbucks’ website, company CIO Curt Garne noted the app update was being done out of caution.
“We’d like to be clear: there is no indication that any customer has been impacted by this or that any information has been compromised,” Garner said. “Regardless, we take these types of concerns seriously and have added several safeguards to protect the information you share with us. To protect the integrity of these added measures, we are unable to share technical details but can assure you that they sufficiently address the concerns raised in the research report.”