Chipotle Plans to Enhance Its Mobile Flavor

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The quick-service restaurant has hired creative digital consultancy Deloitte Digital to redesign its ordering apps and improve its mobile customer experiences

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Chipotle) has hired creative digital consultancy Deloitte Digital to redesign its iOS and Android ordering apps and improve its mobile and digital customer experiences.

According to Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer for Chipotle, the apps will relaunch later this year and feature a “new look” and “improved functionality.” These improvements, per a press release, include reducing ordering friction, calculating pickup times, and making it easier for customers to customize meals and find nearby Chipotle restaurants. The apps will also feature Apple and Android pay options.

This initiative, Garner notes, is part of Chipotle's “larger focus” on digital.

“We're always looking to give our customers easier, more convenient ways to order and enjoy Chipotle food,” Garner stated in the press release, “and a great mobile ordering experience is right in line with that goal. Deloitte Digital brings the data, insights, and technology needed to help us grow our digital channels and meet our customers where they are with the same fast, friendly ordering experience they get in our restaurants.”

Garner joined Chipotle as the company's first CIO in 2015. Previously, he served as CIO of Starbucks, where he held a number of IT positions throughout his 18-year tenure. The hiring announcement came just a few weeks before Chipotle's E.coli outbreak.

Since joining Chipotle, Garner has been tasked with developing and executing the quick-service restaurant's mobile and digital ordering strategies and platforms. These include order.chipotle.com and the brand's apps. According to Chipotle's "2016 Annual Report," customers can place their orders via one of these channels and then have their orders routed to Chipotle's point-of-sales system based on their indicated pick-up time.

Garner didn't answer DMN's inquiry about the percentage of Chipotle customers that order via the apps; however, he did say that the brand has seen “record results” from Chipotle's other digital investments, including the brand's responsive ordering site, online catering, and Smarter Pickup Times initiative – a technology that allows customers to reserve pickup times for digital orders and helps restaurants fulfill these orders more quickly and accurately. In fact, the brand reported in February that Smarter Pickup Times helped the brand reduce wait times for digital orders by up to 50% and that the total number of digital orders reached “record levels.”

 “The current Chipotle app has been a great tool to allow our guests to place orders when and where they want,” Garner later told DMN in an email interview. “However, we realize that our guests are on the go more than ever before, and we're making the improvements to our current app so that it better meets to changing needs of our guests and improves the overall experience.”

The aforementioned press release also cited data from Deloitte that found that ordering technology can help quick-service restaurants increase visit frequency by 6% and increase average spend by 20% per visit.

But will these updates be enough to boost Chipotle's bottom line? The quick-service restaurant has continued to receive negative attention this year for a data breach, as well as for a video showing rodents in one of its Dallas restaurants. Still, the brand's financial results have been improving. In July, Chipotle reported that revenue for Q2 2017 had increased 17.1% compared to Q2 2016 and that revenue for the first six months of the year had jumped 22.1% compared to the first half of last year.

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