Texting your next pizza order

One of the lasting contributions of the "dot-com" era, the way consumers interact with retailers, is changing, as evidenced by online pizza ordering.

Papa John's International Inc. first rolled out its online ordering option in 2001, and it now accounts for almost 20% of the company's domestic sales. Competitors Pizza Hut Express and Domino's Pizza Inc., which began to offer comparable services shortly after, are also seeing the option more frequently used.

Today, Papa John's online option goes even further, venturing into the realm of SMS-based, text message-based ordering. Though it requires all preliminary setup to take place on the Web site, and ordering is limited to only four preset favorites, Papa John's system is an especially convenient option for the hearing impaired or those who simply abhor voice calling.

Similar services are offered by sites like Gomobo and campusfood.com, where a list of restaurants is presented to users, and orders may be placed online or turned into favorites which can then be ordered by text. Once the customer places an order, a confirmation text is sent, and it can be picked up or delivered from a predetermined location.

But Papa John's version of this service differs because it goes directly from the consumer to the seller, without having to go through a third party. To the store, an order from a text message looks exactly the same as an order from the Web site.

Domino's Pizza opened a similar mobile solution just over two months ago, where orders can be placed from Web-enabled phones to participating locations. More than half of Domino's locations currently accept mobile Web orders.

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