Speaking to investors during Domino’s Pizza’s 2011 fourth-quarter earnings call, J. Patrick Doyle, the company's president and CEO, said estimated global online sales in 2011 had exceeded $1.8 billion. Further, online sales comprise around one-third of the company's U.S. sales.

Online orders continue to "grow at a steady clip," Doyle said.

Doyle credited the company's social media strategy, as well as the brand's investment in online transaction technology, for the landmark achievement. "Technology is so pivotal to our business today," he told investors.

"Domino's Day," a Facebook promotion on December 8 in which customers in 19 countries could receive an offer for 50 percent off any pizza ordered online through a Facebook tab, "resulted in a record day for the company's online sales," Doyle said. About half of all Domino's Pizza orders in Japan now occur through online ordering, and half of all the company's pizza deliveries in the U.K. are also placed online, he said.

Doyle said he was pleased with consumer response to Domino's iPhone app, which launched in June. "I'm happy to report that we also recently launched an Android App that should help drive these sales even higher, and now enables us to cover more than 80 percent of smartphones,” he said.

The company increased its base of Twitter and Facebook followers 400 percent in 12 months, Doyle said. The company's technological investment in social media has given it "an advantage that few of our competitors can claim, particularly the small, more regional chains," he said.

Meanwhile, Domino's Pizza domestic store growth remained weak last year.

"We expected to see better domestic store growth numbers in 2011, based on the good year our operators had in 2010. However, we experienced spikes in commodity prices in 2011, which eroded store margins during the summer and made franchisees more hesitant to expand," Doyle said. The company's strategic initiative to weed out weak franchisee operators "has definitely improved the strength of our system," he said.

On the international front, the company increased its outlook for international same-store sales growth from 3 to 6 percent, a slightly rosier forecast from the earlier estimate of 3 to 5 percent. Global retail sales expectations also climbed to a range of 5 to 8 percent annually, from previous estimates of 4 to 7 percent, Doyle said.

By Jan Fletcher

News, Ordering, Pizza, Domino's