While everyone else has been duking it out for space in the delivery sector, Little Caesars — who does not and maybe never will deliver — has been hard at work perfecting a totally different tactic.

Enter the Pizza Portal, a heated, self-service pickup station for Little Caesars customers placing mobile orders. The proprietary technology, which Little Caesars developed with Apex Supply Chain Technologies, works with the Little Caesars mobile app, allowing customers to order, pay, and pickup their food without ever having to wait in a line.

To use the Pizza Portal, people simply order food and pre-pay in the app, which then notifies them when their food is ready. Customers then bypass the counter and cashiers and go straight to the pickup station, where they can access their pizza(s) entering a three-digit PIN or scanning a QR code.

The advantage here is two-fold for Little Caesars. It gives them a mobile-affiliated offering that’s considerably different than anything else out there. It could also further solidify the chain’s relationship with the “click and collect” faction — pizza eaters who’d rather pick their food up in 10 to 15 minutes instead of waiting an hour for someone else to bring it to the door. Plus, not everyone can, or even wants to, continually throw money at delivery fees and driver tips.

The Pizza Portal announcement coincides with updates to the Little Caesars mobile app, including Touch ID/Fingerprint and Face ID login.

And while they’re not planning to hop the delivery bandwagon anytime soon, the chain is still keeping pace with foodtech innovation. Case in point: their patent for a pizza-making robot, which Little Caesars announced this past March. In the words of The Spoon’s Catherine Lamb, it’s “an automated pizza assembly station” that could improve efficiency and speed up service. Pair that with the new Pizza Portal, and it’s entirely possible getting a pizza from this chain becomes preferable to scanning Grubhub, talking to chatbots, or dealing with this vending machine. No clear sign yet on whether these developments will keep Little Caesars ahead in the pizza-tech race, but they’re definitely keeping the chain in the conversation.

There’s no room to rest, though. Domino’s is also hard at work innovating, going from near-bankruptcy a few years ago to bonafide tech company. Besides the aforementioned chatbot who takes phone orders, the chain gives customers a long list of available features and tools, including Domino’s Anywhere, which will deliver to geographic locations instead of numbered addresses, an autonomous delivery drone and self-driving pizza delivery robots. Some of these ventures are more widespread than others, but Domino’s is clearly funneling a lot of resources into finding ways to make its service faster and its pizza tastier.

I could see a Little Caesars outpost manned by the automated pizza robot and featuring a Pizza Portal and cashless payments. And while that’s just a scenario in my head, the pizza-tech race will definitely be won by those who can combine their individual innovations to get the kind of speed and convenience that’s a necessity in the age of digital ordering.

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