Pizza Hut May Soon Start Making Recommendations Based On The Weather

Pizza Hut has plans to recommend pizzas based on the weather. Admittedly, these plans are still in the early stages of development, but they are the first that occurred to Tristan Burns, Pizza Hut's global head of analytics, to mention as they spoke to VentureBeat. The focus of the interview was Pizza Hut's investment in their in-house AI in which their algorithms would learn "a little bit about who customers are, where in the world they are, what the weather might be at their location, and then surface relevant product recommendations to them during their experience." Burns, however, was careful to emphasise that they were still building the capabilities to pull this off. Yet, it tells us what the intentions of the company are.

How pizza recommendations would change with the weather is also a bit of a mystery. However, the technological basis is there. YouTube Music already uses location permissions to recommend music to match the weather. With that said, the connection between music and weather is easier to fathom than that between pizza toppings and the weather. Perhaps they'll push for fresher ingredients on sunny days and more cheese heavy ones on gloomy days in which we just want to indulge ourselves?

In the shadow of Domino's

The frame for the VentureBeat interview highlighted that, despite being the first company to provide online ordering, Pizza Hut has fallen behind its competitors and now is in the process of catching up. Throughout the entire conversation, one shadow loomed large: Domino's. Domino's use of online capabilities is such that news outlets, like NPR and PC Magazine, had long taken to describing it as a tech company that happens to sell pizza. Its entire model has changed into a digital-first company over the course of 13 years.

In fact, CNN reported earlier this year that the latest direction Domino's is pushing into is self-driving delivery cars. Talking about the program they were running in Houston, Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, said, "This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Interestingly, CNN also notes that in 2018, Pizza Hut and Toyota had announced their own plans to create an autonomous delivery truck. However, apart from Nation's Restaurant News' piece on a 2019 test carried out in collaboration with FedEx, no further news has floated. It seems that Pizza Hut recognizes that it has to challenge Domino's in the digital delivery arena, but lacks the institutional framework to gain ground. Perhaps that will change with the work being put in to utilize the weather.