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Tech Startup Slice Helps Local Pizzerias Get Online (forbes.com)
143 points by cpeterso 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments



I hate Slice. They basically came in and registered similar domains to existing pizza shops but because they are better at SEO than the mom & pop places, their results out rank the real sites.

They even went in and updated unclaimed listings on yelp, google, Foursquare, etc. and put their site.

That would be fine if the pizza shops were on board with this. But none of the shops I order from had any clue their orders were being hijacked. Oh, and Slice charges more than if you ordered directly from the shop.


The download.cnet.com of the pizza world.


I spoke to the my local pizza shop in NYC. He said between grubhub, uberRush, yelp and now slice, they are eating his pizza profit margins. He said he has to deal with 3-4 software / hardware POS products for EACH service. They are sucking him dry. He can't make money BUT needs them to bring the business. Slice takes a 20% "slice" per order / of his business. Flour costs going up, he makes his own mozzerella. UberRush takes 33%. I don't know about grubhub / yelp % but its not good for him. His pizza is authentic neopolitina with homemade ingredients. You Actually taste the marinara sauce and fresh mozzerella. Dominos goal is to "squeeze" out and maximize profits using the cheapest possible ingredients they find! Then tell you its good!


> He said he has to deal with 3-4 software / hardware POS products for EACH service

I see this in some small shops. Their order counter is crammed with an iPads for each delivery service usually (4-6). Just to run ONE APP. It's ridiculous with what they have to put up with.


Is there no service that provides one platform to manage all of them?


They want a cut, too.


Sometimes I get upset that my favorite pizza spots in NYC are cash only and non-delivery but after reading this I’m sure the quality wouldn’t be the same if they switched.


Which will inevitably lead him to use poorer quality ingredients in order to survive. 3-4 POS is ridiculous for a small business. Why hasn’t this been solved yet?


He said he gets called from india about some app / software that offers a dashboard to connect uberRush, slice, yelp, grubhub guess what? they take a fee on top of the fees from each POS / Software provider he is using. Its a "Layer Cake" fee. Like that movie. Fee on top of fee. Each morning he wakes up to further confusion when what he REALLY wants todo is make damn good pizza. He also said no one comes to eat in his spot EVERYONE orders out or take out using one of those apps above. He can't figure out all these different apps / services and has to hire someone todo it. Each time he tries to call one of these service providers, he can't get through to an actual human.


Is he wondering what would happen if he ad never gotten onboard of any of those services? With such extreme cuts they take it sound like a shop with his unique selling point (neapolitan pizza, home made cheese) may be able to survive fine with less business but more profit per order.


love "Layer Cake". Sienna Miller at the peak of her powers.


Damn she was HOT in that movie. First time i saw her.


Later on ProductHunt: PizzaCo unifies all your pizza POS services!


Venturing to guess / IMO:

Seems risky for a startup "integrator" (hypothetical company who would solve this) to have their business depend on providing specific integrations per startup + POS system. You would need to keep tabs on any changes ea. of the companies like Slice, GrubHub etc. made from both a service standpoint, and a hardware standpoint, right?

To top it off, it would just be one more layer ontop of this, so how would the company make money? Doesn't seem to solve the Pizza guys problems.

Or perhaps you just generally meant, why hasn't someone built a more modular POS unit that would work with any of these guys. That I have no idea about.


I worked in the restaurant POS space until very recently.

We (and our competitors) are partnering up with Grubhub, Eat24, etc. to solve the hassle of multiple tablets at the counter. Orders can just flow seamlessly from Grubhub's web site / app to our software (which the restaurant already uses), and the restaurant staff just has to confirm the order.

Unfortunately the margins all pretty thin, and ultimately you try to make money off payment processing.


Sounds like a FOSS problem.


> 3-4 POS is ridiculous for a small business. Why hasn’t this been solved yet?

My guess is that the companies would otherwise have trouble enforcing their cuts if the customer chooses to pay when they pick up


Sharing percentages are interesting. 33% seems just too high.

That is why I wonder, if these food delivery apps are actually going to be a boon or bane for small mom and pop shops. Sure, they bring in customers but if it comes at the cost of reducing margins it is not good.

Many of the smaller shops might end up going out of business - either because of reducing margins or because they can't find customers later - all their customers might actually expect them to provide service through these apps.


You would think that competition between the tech companies would drive down prices for the shops.


20-33 percent? That's crazy! I often encounter MAVN for restaurants in Austin. Looking them up, they $50 a month and $0.25 an order, which is way more reasonable.

http://www.whatismavn.com


I'm curious why he simply hasn't raised prices for orders through those platforms?


Customers tend to be insanely price sensitive when it comes to low-end food such as pizza. So you can’t just raise prices because there is a certain limit to what people will be willing to pay before they decide to get pizza from one of the five other pizzarias on that street.


> Customers tend to be insanely price sensitive when it comes to low-end food such as pizza

Then he’s in the wrong market or marketing his product wrong. Lots of cities put a premium on well-made pizza over cheap, “I’m drunk” pizza.


Hmm yes let’s tell someone they are in the wrong market and are doing things wrong when we know literally nothing about their situation. That is not supremely arrogant at all.


I asked a pizza shop owner and they said everytime they’ve raised prices in the past revenue still went up.


If he can't raise prices then he's in a de facto war of attrition.


just curious what the name of his shop is? I'm always looking for good neopolitan pizza in this town.


Not OP but Kesté is great.

This is their site: http://kestepizzeria.com/en/home/

Not to be confused with the Slice site, which is linked on Google Maps (https://www.kestepizzavinonewyork.com/)


Just made a suggested Google edit to change this.


Keste is delicious! They also have good prices.


I love Keste, also checkout motorinos (my top 2 fav)


try lombardies in Manhattan, frannies in brooklyn. You want the very next level stuff? then you gotta go old school Lucali in carol cardens ( Brooklyn) he makes his own Burrata ( its liquid mozzerlla) oh lets not forget Roberta's in Bushwick ( JUST WOW)


Same here, I will visit when I'm in NYC soon.


>UberRush takes 33%. //

Man, that is terrible. This is a major problem with capitalism, the optimisation doesn't work when it gets corrupted with marketing - in theory these frontends would compete until they were making practically nothing above their costs, in practice the one(s) with the most capital behind them (or best marketing department) will win and leech the money away from the producers and to the people who commissioned a clever app. It all seems pretty evil to me.


Delivery is a cost.


And you think the firm charging 33% has a 65% percent higher cost than the one charging 20%?


If it's Uber, probably yeah. Gotta pay the drivers comparable to what they would be making hauling people instead of pizzas.


> They even went in and updated unclaimed listings on yelp, google, Foursquare, etc. and put their site.

"growth hacking"


Now I hate them too. I hate companies with no decency and values.

There needs to be a new movement like the eco or fair trade stuff, where you know that the owners get a fair deal. I’m sure there is a market for that


Sounds almost like a protection racket.

"Nice pizza shop you got there. Be a shame if someone was to burn down its search engine rankings and hold unclaimed profiles to ransom".


This literally sounds like the kind of things OrderAhead pulled a couple years ago.


Gross. I wonder if they were the inspiration for Sliceline or if that was just a happy coincidence?


Na that was just a pun. ;)


How can this be legal?


Back about six years ago now, we had a new guy come on board my team at Netflix as an SRE. He had come from Dominoes. He told us stories about how Dominos saw the writing on the wall and reinvented itself as a tech company, how every step in the pizza making process had an API.

He showed us command line tools that you could use to order and track your pizza, so you could set it up in cron and then have it tell you when the pizza is about to show up.

He told us about all the load testing they had to do before the Superbowl, because unlike any regular weekend, where there is a burst of order activity around dinner, the orders weren't spread across time zones. During the Superbowl, everyone ordered their pizza to show up at halftime, regardless of their time zone.

So yeah, Dominoes has been working on this for a long time, and they are way ahead. Their only real disadvantage is that their HQ is in Detroit, so all their best engineers get pulled away to the coasts for better paying jobs (like my friend did).


Yes but do they make their own hardware?

http://blog.pizzahut.com/dont-miss-a-second-of-march-madness...


"What if we replace the pump with a Dash button?"

"Genius!"


Hang on, what? People order pizza to show up at half time? I have only been at Super Bowl parties where the pizza is there before the game starts, normally part of a giant spread of other heart attack foods.


Most people order at half time to resupply and also because for 1/2 the country it’s closer to dinner time.


food beforehand then when half time comes around you need more food


That sounds like a self-created disadvantage of underpaying in a global talent market, rather than an issue with their city.


Yeah my thought as well. You'd think with a huge business like Domino's you could afford to pay quite a few devs top dollar.

Perhaps it's the fact that Detroit is not known as a nice place to live that's the problem?


Their HQ is actually in Ann Arbor which is nice so long as you don't want big city accoutrements. Pay isn't terrible especially considering cost of living. As far as I can tell their recruiting problem is how many people want to work for pizza corp?


Plus if you get fired or don't like it, how many other employers are there? If you're in SV or NYC, endless.

I get that certain types of firms just don't sound like they have interesting work though.


Pay as well as FAGAM and you'll find a lot who would love to get the FAGAM pay while living at Ann Arbor costs.


That's the first time I've seen that variant for "FANG".

Might I suggest GAFMAN to be even more comprehensive? And if Dropbox gets big enough, we can make it DGAFMAN.


To be honest, making APIs for selling pizza doesn't seem so bad compared to working for a monstrous company like Facebook or Uber. That said, I'd never want to be anywhere near Ann Arbor.


> I'd never want to be anywhere near Ann Arbor. Only personal appreciation or something else ? Lovely town if you are in for the university ecosystem


Well if you're working for Dominos that rules out the university ecosystem... Regardless, I dislike the Midwest and choose to not live there.


https://github.com/RIAEvangelist/node-dominos-pizza-api looks like it could be entertaining


Fun fact, some of the best "italian" pizzeria's in NYC are actually owned and/or run by Albanians.

There is a whole generation of Albanians that moved in Italy (after the 90s), learned the trade there and eventually moved in NYC and opened their places.

Fun fact number 2: A lot of greek places in NYC are actually operated by albanians. (for the same reasons as above).

The main reason is marketing: People in the US know italian and greek food very well, but they are not familiar with Albanian food (which is just as good), so it is much easier for Albanians to market/open a italian/greek restaurant.


Albania and Italy are only as far apart as New York and Philadelphia, and Albania and Greece are adjacent. Americans are not inclined to draw a distinction between regions separated by so little distance. It would be like you saying that you have a favorite Mission-style taqueria in Tirana, and I countered that it's actually run by people from Sacramento. There is no difference!


By this same logic there is little difference between food from southern England and northern France.


No, im saying it's no surprise that someone can learn to cook the cuisine of the next town over. In California all cuisines at every restaurant are cooked by Mexicans. Or maybe Salvadorans but again you can't expect Americans to make that distinction.


It seems you forgot about the little obstacle called the English Channel


A mere inconvenience when compared to the obstacle that is the English kitchen.


>No distinction between Albania and Italy

Il Duce ha sempre ragione!


I’m Albanian and can confirm. Numerous people in my family are in the pizza business. Most the Albanians I know in general are either in tech or the restuarant industry (more so restaurant industry).


I want to preface by saying that I have no issues with Albanians, this is just based on what I know of how some Greeks fell about Albanians.

Given that plenty of Greeks are, to put it mildly, less than fond of Albanians, is there a lot of tension in the Greek Diner/Pizzaria run by Greeks, and those run by Albanians? I hope not, but I’d guess that there is.


No, not that I know off...

Sure, there will be some greeks that don't like Albanians, for x or y reason, but it is not universal.

Also, there substantial number of greeks with Albanian origins: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arvanites ) and Albanian and greek food is very similar as there has been a lot of cross cultural pollination.

Both Albania and Greece were part of the "same empires" for millennia. First the Roman Empire, then Byzantine Empire, then eventually the Ottoman Empire.

Even before that they were either in alliances, or fought each other. Alexander's the great mother was of Illyrian origins.


That’s good to hear, I always found the antipathy between culturally similar groups tragic and weird. Good link too, thanks.


A lot of Far Eastern cuisines are not made by the people you think. My parents ran a Thai/Viet mix place for a while, after having run a Chinese place. If you go to one of my favorite sushi shops in London you'll find people speaking Cantonese.

I think what happens is the restaurateurs see what's popular and figure they can pass for whatever other group it is. And the food is like software, you can learn another framework reasonably well if you have the fundamentals and a little experience.


My parents' Chinese restaurant sold sushi. The Thai restaurant in our town sold both Chinese food and sushi and was run by Laotians. In a small town like mine, Asians are pretty interchangeable and sometimes it can be to ones' advantage.


Same thing happened in Philadelphia with Italian communities / restaurants being replaced by Mexican immigrants. This has led to a few pretty righteous Mexican pizza joints. Pizza al pastor is surprisingly good.

Its also changed the flavor of many historic areas. In the 9th Street Italian Market, many of the shops have painted the eagle, snake and cactus on top of the ubiquitous Italian flags.


Pizza is pretty universal these days. There was one pizza place near me in college owned by an Indian family; they also sold Indian food. They didn't appreciate it when we tried to order a chicken tikka pizza, though.

Another pizza place near where I used to work was run by an Irish guy, who then later sold it to a Chinese guy.

Oh, and my favorite pizza place near where I used to live was run by a Dominican guy.

I think that pizza place food is not really connected with Italians in the US any more; it's pretty much just become mainstream American. Though there is still a trend for them to have Italian names.


> Pizza is pretty universal these days. There was one pizza place near me in college owned by an Indian family; they also sold Indian food. They didn't appreciate it when we tried to order a chicken tikka pizza, though.

Oh that's too bad. There are a few Indian pizza places out here. Some are mostly Indian food on pizza dough, and some have embraced the hybrid (mozz + chicken tikka masala on dough). It's a great combination.


Oh man, their loss! It may be sacrilege but I'm a huge fan of "desi pizza", and there are a lot of places like that in Fremont CA near where I used to live. One place: http://www.bombaypizzahouse.com/


Zante in the SF Mission District serves Indian pizza:

http://zantepizza.com/


In SF the only pizza place I ate at over a six-month period was owned by jwz, and the only pizza slices I ate were vegan ones. I'm not vegan, but I'm slightly lactose intolerant (or something).

I think that pizza is probably a blind spot for many SF/SV startup people. Not surprised this startup is based in NYC.

Is there an avocado toast startup?

Edit: come to think of it I had vegan pizza in NYC a year and a half ago (and on other days while I was visiting, I had some non-vegan pizza). I wonder if it was at a pizza place run by Albanians.


> I think that pizza is probably a blind spot for many SF/SV startup people. Not surprised this startup is based in NYC.

Really? I found New York pizza to be pretty mediocre in general (Joe's on Bleecker is pretty good if you're okay with burnt dough). DNA Lounge's pizza is not known to be great though. Out here, Patxi's does a good deep dish vegan pie, and there are plenty of places to get a good New York style slice.


wut? I lived 7 years in SF, and 5 in NYC, and there is no comparison.

SF has good deep dish (Little Cesar and Paxtis), and maybe one good true Italian/wood/brick pizza in Northern Beach but that's it.

In NYC you have good pizza every other block (as well as crappy $1, or $2/slice type of places ). Once you try few places, you find which ones are good/legit, and stick with them, and avoid the crappy ones.

For pizza and bagels there is just no comparison between the two places.


Bagels are a whole different ballgame, you can't find a decent bagel in the Bay Area.

But pizza? Your typical place in New York isn't a whole lot different from what you'd find at New York style places (e.g. Escape From New York, Serranos, Arinell's). The 99 cent chain isn't as bad as folks make it out to be IMO.

Out here you've got plenty of wood fired places 'authentic' and not (e.g. Zuni, Tony's, Una Pizza Napoletana, Pizzaiolo); Indian (Zante, Brother's); California (Zuni again, Goat Hill, Arizmendi / Cheese Board -- their sour dough puts puts anything I had in New York to shame); deep dish (Little Star, Patxi's, Zachary's); and, of course, Delfina.

The typical New York pizza isn't significantly different in overall quality than the stuff you find in the Bay Area. If you go looking for it you can find excellent pizza in New York I'm sure (but the same is true in the Bay Area).


err, surely NY is known for its pizza for a reason. All good if you don't like it, but I don't know how you could be surprised that other people don't share a minority opinion


>Out here, Patxi's does a good deep dish vegan pie

That ain't pizza.


vegan pizza? you must be from San Francisco :)


There's plenty of tremendous pizza in San Francisco. Hell, we even have Zante's, which makes quite unique Indian Pizza. The stuff at DNA Lounge is frankly crap compared to some of what you can get from the lesser known places.

With that said, we're still nowhere on the level of NYC.


Please share some, i have had a few decent slices but they are few and far between. Arinell in mission is closest I’ve gotten to an NY slice.


Yeah, if you're looking for New York style, you're pretty much limited to Arinell.

For Neopolitan, you've got Tony's (actual restaurant, not the takeout shop), Il Casaro, and Carmel Pizza Co. in the North Beach area. Elsewhere, you have A16.

Golden Boy is good pizza, but it's in its own category of American pizza.


The only slice worth a damn in SF is Golden Boy.


Can confirm. The only thing I remember about DNA Lounge pizza was that it was hot.


Not quite an avocado toast startup, but The Melt is a grilled cheese startup:

https://themelt.com/


The exact same thing happened with Indian restaurants in New York:

> "We give our restaurants Indian names," the Bangladeshi manager of another Indian restaurant said, "because people in America know about India, and maybe they wouldn't come if we said we were from Bangladesh."

https://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/07/nyregion/the-star-of-bang...


Very common to have cross-culture interests these days. In my neighborhood, Koreans run a sushi restaurant, Irish a Sicilian restaurant, and Indians a burger joint.


Interesting. Here in Switzerland this is also true. A lot of Pizzerias are operated and owned by Albanians. I always thought that this only „happened“ here.


In Sweden, pizzerias are generally run by Turks or Syrians.


Its a generational thing. The children of Italian pizza guys grew up middle class and got homogenized into standard issue Americans. Who wants to toil in a pizza shop when you can be a banker, project manager, IT guy, etc.

Ditto with Jewish delis. One of my dad’s good friends shut a very successful deli down because the family wanted nothing to do with it.


The other reason is that the Italians and Greeks that were running those restaurants made a lot of money and their kids (next gen) went off to college. Having noone to operate those stores, they had to sell or find people that would operate them.


Sounds like a feedback loop. They ought to slowly introduce "Albanian" options to their Italian and Greek menus.


Ask the Cambodian guy who runs a Chinese restaurant how that’s workin out ;)


[Elephant Walk](https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-elephant-walk-boston-2), one of the best restaurants in Boston, is French Cambodian.


Ask Babu Bhatt


In a similar way, most Indian restaurants have Bangladeshi or Nepali cooks.


Fun Fact #3:

There's always a Mercedes Benz in the parking lot.


Any recommendations?


For pizza I usually go by the slice, (eg. some pizza places have one or two type of slices that are the best, and the rest might be ok). I almost never go at sit down pizzeria. Usually the "by the slice" places are better than sit down restaurants (which usually cater to tourists).

My favorite slice by far is the marinara and sausage/meatball (the pizza on the background):

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipP3K30cRMfe41WljFJP...

The place is called "Stromboli Pizza" and is in the middle of East Village. When the weather is great is just grab a slice and sit down at the stools outside "The Bean", which is next door on 9th st.

http://www.strombolipizzanewyork.com/menu.aspx


If you want good Italian in NYC go to Celeste, owner is actually Italian too


Just like the best Pizza is actually across the border from Italy in Slovenia. We even have a common pizza variation with caviar.

Most pizzerias offer 10+ types of pizza. Pizza life is pretty boring in the US by comparison.



Slice has been around a lot longer than the Sliceline episode, but the business model questions raised are still pretty relevant.


> Yet Sela believes consumers have been abandoning local shops--even those with fresher ingredients, better flavors and ties to their communities--mostly because they lack the ability to take mobile orders.

That may be part of it, but among people I know the majority of it is cost. A 16" pizza at most of our favorite spots ends up around $25. I can get a 14" 3 topping pizza at Dominos for $7.99.

The local pizza is great and we get it a couple times a month, but it's not 3 times better.


Local pizza is more like 100x better. I couldn't even finish a slice of Dominos, at least the one I ordered from on the west side of Cleveland. I've had better frozen pizza. I don't get who's ordering it. It's not even the 'good' kind of bad, like, say McDonald's fries that one indulges in on occasion.


Chain restaurants don't succeed by being better, they succeed by being consistent. The fear of having a bad meal is much, much stronger than the desire to have an exceptional one. This - along with price - is why McDonald's in NYC is packed with tourists.


Sadly, I don’t think it’s even mostly tourists. Every McDonalds I walk by in NYC is always busy, even in parts of the city with fewer tourists.


In many places the local pizza place also sucks, the OP might have no idea what they are missing.


Maybe you just have a bad dominoes. There are some great local pizza places where I live (SoCal), but they're 2x the cost, but not 2x better.


We have several local pizzerias, each of which is several times more delicious than Dominos. However, they cost 2x (or more) as much, depending on the coupons that Dominos might have.

I might enjoy eating it ~2x or 5x as much as Dominos, but if it's not in the budget, the choice is between Dominos or no-pizza.


Interesting. Dominos in the uk is horribly expensive in comparison.


This is something i don't get. There's a Papa John near me, on Green Lanes, N4. They charge 18 pounds for a large pizza. On either side of it, there are Turkish restaurants and bakeries where that will buy you an excellent three-course meal with a beer (okay, so the dessert might be the single piece of baklava they throw in at the end). How do they survive?


I think a large pizza is 2-3 meals easily, so per meal cost is 6-9 pounds. It might be worth it in that sense, as compared to the Turkish places.


I did the maths, and a large American Hot is 1500 calories. Two meals, perhaps.

A few doors down at Harran, you can get a large lamb shish kebab in a box, with rice, salad, bread, chilli sauce, and cacik, for £6.50. And the salad and bread are both really good!


About 5 years ago, my wife and I were in London on vacation. We'd just gotten to our hotel from the airport, the rain was really coming down, and we opted to stay in. We ordered pizza from...well, I don't remember where, but the quality of the product was certainly chain-like. And the price was several times what I would've paid at home, even for something of a better quality.

I think expensive food was just one of the defining traits of London, though.


Where do you live? Dominos is the worst. 3x is conservative.

Look for a grande cheese pizzeria if you don’t live in a good pizza area.


I’ve always joked that Domino’s is the original food delivery “tech” company. Reading this article confirms it, as well as watching the Netflix Ugly Delicious “Pizza” episode where they show how as much of the Dominos’ process is automated.


This is what sliceline should’ve been in Silicon Valley.


Interesting. In Poland there are two well-known for years online food ordering services, where small local pizzerias and bistros can offer their dishes and take your orders - PizzaPortal and Pyszne.pl. Only recently they got some competition in form of Uber Eats, which also handles the delivery for the restaurant; however, Uber's catalog of restaurants and supported cities is still very limited when compared to those other two.


Somewhat off topic but the majority of the indie pizza joints near me (central NJ, 60ish mins from NYC and PHL) have gone bottom market. That is, flavorless and mediocre.

If Domino's is winning from convenience then perhaps the M&P product needs more help than their technology?


The last time I ordered Domino's the delivery person brought me a completely empty box.

It was so light when they handed it over, I immediately opened it before signing the check. I remember the driver just looked at me, like Dang, that's a weird order. He didn't jump in with an apology or anything.

When I said I wouldn't pay for the pizza, he asked me to sign the receipt and said he would go back and bring me another pizza. I said that's not what a receipt is for... a receipt means you RECEIVED the product.

I am pretty sure that guy ate my pizza, and after I signed the receipt he would never have came back. I called the store to complain and they offered to send me a free pizza the next day, but it never came.


My default advice to workers getting rough end of the stick is "unionise".

here companies with SEO skills are stiffing smaller shops and i cannot think of any better advice.

It is of course hard to do - basically the Teamsters were the only effective ones at it and they used ... unethical approaches - but i do think it's feasible.

Also this is the essence of the open source critical mass problem. Proprietary houses can afford the initial upfront investment to say make a pizza site but which non profit union exists to run an SEO operation to compete here?

Is this just a failing of small shops who are destined to be beaten if they don't grow? is this a failing of SEO at google who cannot distinguish between a local shop and a chain?


Sliceline?



If only this company could get $100 million in funding so venture capitalists can subsidize my pizzas.

That's what I was thinking when I saw Sliceline... because venture capitalists already subsidize my transportation (cheap Uber) and movie tickets (Moviepass) why not subsidize my pizza?


First thing I thought of. Its just Dominos!


I'm surprised to see no mention of Open Table in the article or here in the comments.

It sounds from the comments that Slice is creating an intermediary where none existed before, by providing a service (acquire g and processing online orders) that's hard for any single restaurant to build at small scale. So when the first few restaurants sign up, it's incremental revenue for them. Over time, though, as every pizza place uses Slice, it's no longer a competitive advantage but expected.

I imagine that, at the early stages, those restaurants that adopt the model win at the expense of laggards. Over time the gains probably accrue to the middle man, with some gains going to consumers (who have a wider range of places to order from) and some losses to the restaurants (who end up competing with the whole extended neighbourhood, and giving margin to Slice for both incremental customers, and customers who would have bought direct before this whole thing started).


Actually it's called SliceLine


Maybe I'm just out of touch, but the appeal of online pizza ordering is something I can't wrap my mind around. Calling and placing an order using the traditional telephone method seems far easier to me. I do it often, more often than I should. Furthermore it seems better for the business since presumably the phone company takes a much smaller cut of the sale than whatever web platform they may be using.

Is it because people are growing more adverse to the brief limited social interaction of a phonecall? Is it because people are placing very large and complex orders that are difficult to convey over the phone? (admittedly most of my orders are for a single pizza with two or three topping specified..) Is it because websites have more pictures that people find attractive?


1) having to talk over the other restaurant staff; receiver can't hear you. 2) reading my credit card number over the phone 3) explaining the details of the order. The human always messes it up. 4) getting surprised by the cost, or having to calculate the cost for all the items ahead of time. I'd rather negotiate my order with a machine in the privacy of my own home than with a person on the phone.


I see. I typically pay with cash, however whenever my trip to an ATM is overdue I pay with credit and they have my number (and delivery address, and typical pizza order) on file, correlated with my phone number. The pizzeria I most frequently order from is a loud bar and I hear the din of the bar noise in the background quite clearly, but I've never had to repeat myself when talking with them over the phone.

Often times I can order a pizza over the phone using nothing more than three words "yes ... yes ... yes", in response to the questions "are you still at [address]", "same order as last time?", "cash?". Certainly a website can remember such details as well, but poking around at a webpage that remembers such details isn't nearly as straight forward in my mind as simply talking to a person for a few seconds.


Which is just as terrifying if someone knows you order from that place .. caller id spoofing is pretty easy and I doubt it’d be hard to convince them to change the address.


Honestly I have better things to worry about. Despite that being theoretically possible, how often do you think it actually happens? It's more likely that I'll be hit and killed by a car tomorrow, a more likely scenario with a far more severe consequence. And even that is a scenario I don't find myself dwelling on.

Possible? Yes. Terrifying? Not even remotely.


interesting, i have never had this experience. i can hear the staff, explicitly order what I want, confirm the price with the person and then pick it up paying with card or cash. also, most delivery places have square-type pos services or i just pay cash so i don't give a card over the phone. i love online ordering of products but i think ordering food is a bad experience. Typically my orders are uncomplicated and small though and usually for pickup.


> reading my credit card number over the phone

I find this interesting because most places I call for carry out just take my order and name.

I then pay at the counter with my credit card when I pick it up.


In my experience it's standard to pay in person when you pick it up, whether you're using cash or credit. But if you're getting delivery they ask for your credit card number when you place the order (and obviously cash is handed over when it's delivered.)


Odd. If I'm paying in cash for a delivery, I'd question them asking for a credit card number.


Reasons I order pizza online instead of over phone usually:

- Online only or other coupons/deals are usually displayed

- Entire restaurant menu and other sides can be perused at my leisure and selected

- When ordering for multiple people can build a shopping cart of what is wanted by all and verify it's right before confirming order

- Phone calls feel rushed to me when I call in, like 'hurry up and order'

- I don't get put on hold on the phone


I agree with all of this, and I’ll add four more:

- fewer worries order will be put in wrong

- sometimes have a hard time understanding, due to noise, accents, bad connection

- sometimes in an environment where I need to be quiet

- just don’t like the phone


For me, it's usually because if I'm ordering something it's for a group of people (family or group of friends), so it's easier to put the order together online (you can go round the room and ask them what they want, then get them to double check the order at the end).

There's also the fact that at a couple of the local places, the staff don't speak English as a first language, which combined with the noise of the shop often leads to you repeating yourself or there being occasional mixups.


I often order at work, just before going to the pizza place (and then home). Ordering online means that I can spend some time thinking about what to order, whether I want more than just pizza, poking around to see if there are special offers that day (even check on more than one restaurant without bothering their employees), and so on.

I can avoid the person at the register punching the wrong thing in, get a receipt on my phone, and not have to call several times in a row to get the teen working the register to pick up.

The phone call's easier if I know which restaurant I'm going to order from, which coupon I'll use, and everything I plan on ordering, but often those 3 things don't apply at the same time...and I still have to go online to find the place's phone number.


It's probably a combination of all the above. Personally I don't like talking on the phone. Busy shops will commonly begin the phone call with a greeting followed immediately by "can you please hold". That alone is enough to drive me to their website next time I order.


> Maybe I'm just out of touch, but the appeal of online pizza ordering is something I can't wrap my mind around.

Online pizza ordering could be awesome, and good for pizzerias, because most of them are limited on phone staff at the times the most people order which can make the phone order process inconvenient (and filled with long hold delays) unless you avoid ordering at busy times which, by definition, lots of people don't.

OTOH, most online ordering systems for pizza seemed to designed for maximum UX horror, making calling a better experience even at busy times. But online ordering should be a win through asynchrony.


Mostly laziness. The restaurants push it because it makes upsell easier.

Try one of the touchscreen McDonald’s order kiosks. You need to navigate many dark patterns to order anything that isn’t a meal deal.


I can appreciate that Slice is trying to undercut competitors like seamless, but their app is little more than a minimum viable product. It lacks any user-generated content, such as reviews or photos, so there's really nothing to make your choice on, unless you already know the place you're ordering from. The menus have no standardization, so you don't even have a reliable indicator of how much food you are ordering. I have trouble seeing how they can compete when their many competitors provide a much better UX.


This is part of the plot of The Internship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k__jmmSIUEE


Huh, interesting. I never considered pizza to be one of those markets that could be threatened by a franchise corporation.

I mean, I know there's Little Caesars that has their super cheap medium pizzas, but they're super cheap for a reason and pizza seems like one of those things people are willing to pay a little more for, because quality can vary quite significantly.


I think part of it is that people often buy pizza out of their neighborhood, so they want a name they know with menu items they can just recite... hence not only national chains but regional chains (e.g. Round Table in CA).

I would never have a chain food app on my phone just from a privacy-suck standpoint. For example, here are the permissions the Dominos app wants on Android:

This app has access to:

Location

- precise location (GPS and network-based)

Phone

- directly call phone numbers

- read phone status and identity

Photos/Media/Files

- read the contents of your USB storage

- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Storage

- read the contents of your USB storage

- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Camera

- take pictures and videos

Microphone

- record audio

Device ID & call information

- phone status and identity

Other

- receive data from Internet

- view network connections

- pair with Bluetooth devices

- access Bluetooth settings

- full network access

- control vibration

- prevent device from sleeping


That's incredible. I feel sorry for anyone installing apps like that. They get what they deserve, IMO.


I thought Android let you deny permissions now?


> "the opportunity to build a business that could compete with Big Pizza by uniting tens of thousands of mom-and-pop shops"

This summary of Slice's business feels like it ought to be generalizable to other industries. Anyone have other examples of companies trying to do something similar in different verticals? (s/Big Pizza/Big Floral, or something?)


Why would a small business want to be part of some marketplace that just reduces their margins, commoditizes their business and and forces them into a race to the bottom?

Marketplaces are often a terrible deal for small businesses and small business owners know it, so there has to be some incredibly compelling benefit to being part of it for them to want to do it.


I've been exploring this for close to 10 years now and the biggest barrier is not lack of companies that can provide platforms to "unite" other verticals but rather an outright resistance to make what seems like big changes to those moms and pops businesses. It's quite difficult to find the right balance between the bare minimum each of these businesses needs to change/update to make it viable to create the platform and what seems like too tall of an order for them - instead they will just print more flyers, work double shifts, come up with nearly "at cost promos", etc.


Big Floral does this, for many years already: https://www.ftd.com/


For over 100 years apparently https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interflora


Heh, they have an ad if you search for Sliceline.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Sliceline

"The Slice App taking over, the real Pied Piper of Pizza!"


In Finland a site called PizzaOnline is doing the same and many (most?) whom offer delivery is on it (I'd assume) with 400 000 registered users at least (with a population of 5,5 million). Insanely popular.


My goodness it's getting harder and harder to get to the news. https://ibb.co/idSye7


FYI, here are the permissions the Slice app requires on Android:

"This app has access to:

Identity: find accounts on the device, add or remove accounts

Contacts: (are you kidding me?!?!)

Location: precise location (GPS and network-based)

Photos/Media/Files: read the contents of your USB storage, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Storage: read the contents of your USB storage, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Camera: take pictures and videos

Wi-Fi connection information: view Wi-Fi connections

Other:

- receive data from Internet

- view network connections

- create accounts and set passwords

- full network access

- use accounts on the device

- control vibration

- prevent device from sleeping"

So, what they don't make on taking a slice of providers, they can make on selling marketing/demographic data.


I use Slice all the time to order from A Pizza Mart in Seattle.


Sliceline !


Dominos put more money into their ordering system bells and whistles than the actual food, if you can call it food. I couldn't even finish a slice it was so bad.


It's not great pizza, but it's not as inedible as you and the other commenter claim


I have to wonder if HN has a higher population of “food snobs.”


Absolutely the same here and I am Scottish. I will eat pretty much anything, but even with a beer in Me, I can't handle Dominos.

Fake cheese, Fake chicken, Fake mushrooms (I was amazed at fake mushrooms) all put together onto a tasteless base.

Gives me the boke.


I actually worked at Dominos many moons ago, and while their ingredients aren't "fake", they are certainly not so fresh. The pre-made, pre-sized dough, sauce, cheese and toppings all arrive in gigantic refrigerated semi trucks from a centralized warehouse. They scale they deal with is beyond the size of most "restaurants" save maybe the other fast food giants, so it has to be this way. You will never get the freshness level that you would get from a mom and pop joint, but of course, that is not what you're expecting from Dominos.


Fake as in "these aren't mushrooms" or "these used to be mushrooms"?


> Fake cheese, Fake chicken, Fake mushrooms

What is fake chicken? Do you want a live, breathing chicken?


The youngest chicken possible, pumped full of saline and water so that when cooked and you cut it with a knife, the cross section looks like playdoh. It has no texture. There is no "grain" to the meat.

A chicken breast today (not fed on chemical feed) is £8-£10 each from a decent butcher or a farm.

You can get chicken breast from a cheap supermarket 10 for £2.99.

These aren't the same thing.


Those aren't the same thing, but that's not fake chicken either.

Chicken fed on chemical feed is not "fake" chicken either. I can understand it doesn't live up to your expectations though.


> Fake cheese, Fake chicken, Fake mushrooms

What exactly do you think is on their pizza?


In the UK?

Analog Cheese, Water Pumped Chicken, Ultra Hydrated mushrooms.

If I am paying 3 pound for a pizza, I expect it to be shit. If I am paying 10 pound, I expect it to be reasonable.


Well at least it's not digital cheese.

More seriously, in America "cheese" is a term that's regulated. Cheez-wiz in a can is called something like "cheese product" because it can't legally be called "cheese". Surely this is the same in the UK too?


Cheese you don't like. Chicken you don't like. Mushrooms you don't like.

That doesn't make those things "fake."


It certainly isn't natural by any sense of the word.




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