CSA Exclusive: Chipotle will fill your order – however and wherever you choose

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Chipotle Mexican Grill is connecting the digital and in-store sides of the customer experience.

Nicole West, Chipotle’s VP, digital strategy and product, recently spoke with Chain Store Age about a wide-ranging digital transformation occurring at the global casual dining chain. 

“We have always been focused on customer experience,” said West. “But customer expectations are evolving, and we know we need to modernize.”

To that end, Chipotle launched a major digital initiative in 2017 in partnership with CRM solutions provider Sparkfly. “We wanted to create a beautiful, frictionless order experience using a convenient, stable platform we could easily update,” West commented.

Chipotle’s transformation strategy encompasses its brick-and-mortar stores, mobile app, e-commerce site, corporate brand site, and voice chat. Leveraging Sparkfly technology, the retailer is launching digital initiatives including a mobile app campaign, rewards loyalty program, in-restaurant technology intelligence, and frictionless online ordering.

“We ran our first-ever mobile app acquisition campaign,” said West. “We offer double loyalty point days, bonuses for digital orders, and special mobile birthday offers.”

Chipotle has also overhauled its rewards loyalty program. With digital wallet capabilities provided by Sparkfly, Chipotle can collect transactional data, as well as apply loyalty rewards and process personalized discounts received through any form of media or distribution channel, all through single-scan technology at the POS. Customers can even have voice-based access to their digital wallet using an order skill for the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

“You can save special offers and bonuses, and reference bonuses you qualify for,” said West. “Customers can scan a member ID barcode at the POS with a scanner and apply digital rewards to their in-store purchase. It removes friction – opportunities to earn loyalty rewards are seamless regardless of whether customers make an online order or in-store order.”

One aspect of the omnichannel customer experience where West said consumer demand is growing rapidly is on-delivery of digital orders.

“We were a little surprised at the speed with which delivery has taken off in the restaurant space,” said West. “Customers want food to be accessible, wherever they may be, and have it delivered to them in short order.”

Chipotle provides on-demand digital delivery in national partnership with DoorDash. The company also partners locally with third-party delivery platforms including Postmates.

The company’s future plans for its continuing digital transformation include connecting front-end mobile, online and catering orders to the back-end makeline, as well as to in-store mobile order pickup shelves for customers and delivery partners. Chipotle is also in the early stages of building a CRM platform.

“We are continuing momentum with our digital system,” concluded West. “We will continue increasing customer engagement and opportunities for engagement such as bonuses, offers and promotions with increased access and convenience.”

Chipotle operates approximately 2,500 corporate restaurants in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.