Don’t Push the Big Red Button!

pizza buttonIt’s here, and it’s just in time for the holidays! Domino’s has unleashed a quick order button housed in a micro-sized pizza box. Amazon already unveiled their Dash Button, which allows customers to order frequently purchased items through Amazon Prime at the touch of a button. It was only a matter of time before the pizza gods would bless us with the same kind of convenience and fun; no one can resist pushing a big button.

The first batch of buttons is slated for release in the U.K. this December, with a second batch scheduled for February. Domino’s has said that they will let the public know when plans are finalized for releasing the button in other places. The button is linked to Domino’s smartphone app, which already has a virtual button for making orders. But tapping a smartphone screen could never be quite as satisfying as pressing a real button!

This may seem like a silly thing to get excited (or blog) about, but let me defend myself for a moment. To begin with, I really enjoy pizza. It’s one of my favorite foods, and I can get pretty excited about it. More importantly though, I think the Domino’s pizza button indicates something really important about consumers. It would seem that consumers still really appreciate physical goods as well as fun experiences.

It might be a little hard to believe in an age where hardly anyone owns CDs or DVDs anymore, where students take notes in class on their laptops or tablets, and most everyone I see on public buses reads exclusively from an e-reader on their morning commute. But despite our growing dependence on technology and the virtual world – or perhaps even because of that dependence – ‘physicality’ still seems to play an important role in our lives. Here are just a few examples:

Vinyl records have been making a bit of a comeback, some preferring vinyl sonically to other mediums, while others may enjoy them for the novelty aspect or the physicality they posses. Articles have argued – and have been shared widely on the internet – that taking notes by hand leads to better long-term comprehension and memory. Just earlier this month, I wrote an article covering Amazon’s plans to move into the physical bookstore market. I would assume that a company like Amazon probably had good reason to believe it was worth experimenting with a physical location.

Taking that all into account, there must still be many people who enjoy tangible products and real-life experiences. They may even favor them over their virtual counterparts; not out of necessity, but purely as a matter of preference.

In the case of the Domino’s pizza button, technology has actually made the physical experience possible. Before wireless communication and the ubiquity of smartphones, I doubt something like the pizza button could have been a feasible product. But now that a push-to-order button has been made completely unnecessary by phones and apps, we have the technology to make it affordable and easy to implement.

Time will tell whether Amazon’s bookstore and this pizza button will be a hit with consumers, but I would put a fairly large amount of stock in people’s appreciation for physicality. It’s something that many of us may feel is increasingly missing from our lives. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see the market for anachronistic products like vinyl, books and pizza buttons grow considerably in the coming years.