Domino’s began experimenting with train deliveries in February. The company now offers delivery of pizzas on more than 200 train services and plans to roll out ordering for dozens of new routes in coming months.
The service–the first of its kind for Domino’s—works like this: Deliverymen hop on board when trains stop at selected stations to pick up passengers. The fast-food chain has identified 41 such train stations, from Delhi to Agra to Jalandhar, which are located near its branches. Customers can place orders online, over the phone, or through text message at least two hours before the train pulls up to the platform.
The move is touted as win-win for both the fast-food chain and India’s state-run railway network. State-owned Indian Railways has a reputation for serving bad food; authorities say they receive at least three complaints a day about the lentil curry and rice typically served to passengers. Meanwhile, for Domino’s, access to India’s railway network means potentially reaching millions of customers crisscrossing the country on its trains.
Indian trains are infamous for being late or not running at all. Finding the right train is no easy task either. India’s chaotic train stations are a maze of hard to find and poorly-connected platforms. Some trains stop for less than a minute at major stations, there’s a good chance a few may rumble off with deliverymen on board.
How has Domino’s managed to circumvent the other challenges? We followed a Chicken Fiesta Pizza–ordered for a passenger on a train from New Delhi to Jalandhar last week–to learn more.
At about 2 p.m. on a sunny afternoon, 45 minutes before the train’s expected departure, managers at Domino’s Paharganj outlet, a five minutes’ drive from New Delhi’s station, dialed the railways’ hotline. An automated voice confirmed the train was on time.
Then, at 2:30 p.m., with 15 minutes to spare, Mr. Rathod, the deliveryman, set out from the Paharganj outlet and zigzagged through traffic. Finding parking at New Delhi’s already-overcrowded train station took longer than he’d expected.
At 2.42 p.m., with three minutes to go, Mr. Rathod entered the station. The next hurdle? Finding the right platform. After pacing up and down a flight of stairs, a minor detour, and a helpful tip from one shopkeeper, Mr. Rathod finally reached the train, just a few seconds short of its scheduled retreat. Panting, he elbowed his way through the coach, and arrived at the correct seat number.
A young passenger, already munching on a Chicken Fiesta Pizza, looked up. “A second one?” he asked, confused. There was no time for a discussion, though. Mr. Rathod worried the train would chug along with him on board. He unzipped a massive insulated bag, handed over another Chicken Fiesta Pizza, and quickly hoped off.
“It all finally worked out,” Mr. Rathod said, wiping sweat off his brow outside the train station. “I was scared I wouldn’t make it on time.”