TiVo And Domino's Try E-Commerce Without The PC Or Phone

As more retailers try to go where the customers are rather than getting them to come to the retailer, TiVo and Domino's are taking the next logical step with a TV-as-E-Commerce-Device approach.

The trial is only available to a little more than one-fifth of TiVo's 3.6 million subscribers (just those who pay for broadband TiVo) and is limited to those willing to pay cash. Still, the approach is quite interesting.

A TiVo statement describes how the company envisions it working: Subscribers can place a Domino's pizza order "from various advertising entry points on the TiVo user interface, including Gold Star Sponsorship, Program Placement, Interactive Tags in live TV spots and through Music, Photos and Products." (The statement said the program "gives a whole new meaning to the term 'TV dinner.'" You've got to admit it's a good line.)

By using an account number, the order is placed from the TV monitor as though it was a traditional Web purchase.

The merger of E-Commerce and TV is hardly a new concept, with BET Networks having toyed with a mobile phone SMS and TV connection a couple of years ago as a way to sell music. And AOL's Steve Case was arguing for years before that about the value of convergence.

Major retail, however, has been slow to embrace TV integration. Today, however, retailers are very much warming to the idea of going after the customers wherever they are. Best Buy has been aggressive in pressing this point recently.

The Potential Is There

But will TV integration be effective? It has a few things going for it, particularly context. Domino's 30-minute delivery promise nicely matches the duration of many television shows. "Order during the opening commercial of this show and you'll be eating a hot pizza before the opening commercials of the next show." It has potential.

Going against it, though, are the same issues that have tripped up convergence efforts for years. Contextually comfortable or not, consumers like their devices segmented. With a laptop, a PC and quite possibly a smartphone often within a few feet, how many consumers will bother ordering food on their TVs once the novelty wears off?

The point of convergence was not to have separate devices with their own functionality but to have one consistent interface across all devices. (For context, we found an April 1999 radio piece we did for InternetWorld Radio about a Steve Case speech arguing for convergence which, at the time—almost 10 years ago—was already a losing argument.)

That all said, resistance to change is powerful, but so is laziness. The closer Domino's makes it to one-click ordering, the better a chance it has.

By the way, if anyone wants concrete proof that PCI is having an impact in retail circles today, note that Domino's is insisting on cash only for this venture.