Toppers Pizza has a lot in the oven. And not only the large variety of pizza toppings that is its claim to fame, but a cross-country growth strategy backed by a new e-commerce and content management technology platform.
“Over the next five years, our goal is to have 200 restaurants, up from 73 today,” vice president of I.T. Tony Ellis says.
Toppers, based in Whitewater, Wis., already operates across 13 states. With an anti-pizza-establishment air, it has a strong following among college students in places like Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin. “Never settle for pizza made by THE MAN,” it says in a dig against big national chains on its retail e-commerce site, Toppers.com, promising to offer fresher ingredients as well as more toppings.
As it carries out its own plan for expansion, heading soon to places like Colorado and Maryland, Toppers wants to maintain control over its image and its pizza-preparing policies, improve operating efficiency, and, of course, increase sales both online and in its restaurants, Ellis says.
A key part of that strategy, he adds, is migrating to a new website platform that Toppers is deploying from Episerver, a provider of e-commerce and content management technology.
Toppers is deploying the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud technology platform this year to upgrade its retail e-commerce site and integrate online orders with orders received through its store point-of-sale system. The new platform comes with the Episever content management system, which Ellis says will provide more personalized content based on the purchasing history of individual online customers and enable Toppers personnel to more easily and quickly update web content.
Order data from the store POS and e-commerce systems will also integrate with Toppers’s supply chain technology, enabling it to automatically re-order crucial supplies like mozzarella cheese. “We’ll no longer have to count how many pounds of mozzarella we have left,” Ellis says.
Next year it will extend the platform to also support ToppersFranchise.com, where its franchisees can view information on company policies and franchise opportunities. The platform will also include an internal training website, where Toppers will post videos and other training materials—and verify their usage—to ensure its employees and those of franchised stores follow the same food-preparation and service policies.
In addition, the cloud-based Episerver platform will provide the internet security Toppers needs and provide web platform hosting and management services. That will free up Toppers’s staff to focus on improving its products and service, Ellis says.
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