- Fast-casual restaurant Chipotle is adding drive-thru lanes at some restaurant locations, but they are reserved for customers who order via the company's app or online, according to CNBC. Chipotle has drive-thrus at storefronts in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Massachusetts, and will soon add one at a location in Virginia.
- Consumers are given a pickup time when they place their orders digitally. Diners can then use the mobile order lane to pick up their meals to avoid going inside the restaurant. Diners can also order a meal in advance and select a specific pickup time.
- Digital orders made up 8.8% of Chipotle's total sales during the last quarter, a 40% increase from the previous year, according to CNBC. Digital orders make up about one-tenth of the company's total sales, but Chipotle expects that number to grow.
Chipotle's strategy with its drive-thru lanes underpins a growing focus on its digital and mobile ordering business, which has jumped considerably over the past year and could be the cornerstone of a much-needed turnaround. The fast-casual chain has in recent years weathered major food safety crises and management changes, including the loss of its CEO and CMO, with the latter being replaced in March by Taco Bell veteran Chris Brandt.
Taco Bell, one of Chipotle's main rivals, has frequently been an innovator with mobile channels, and Chipotle is likely hoping to replicate some of that success by making mobile pickup more convenient. In November, it rolled out a redesigned mobile app with new features, including quick re-ordering, mobile pay and streamlined checkouts. The company also recently partnered with DoorDash and saw a 667% boost in weekly delivery orders.
Chipotle has previously lagged behind other quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains at a time when both mobile and in-store digital innovation are ramping up. This transformation comes as mobile ordering is a growing preference among consumers. Mobile payments to fast-food restaurants increased 75% in 2017 from the previous year, meaning that 10% of all QSR sales are made via mobile, according to First Data. To encourage mobile ordering, Chipotle has already added second food lines in the back of several stores to better accommodate pickup orders, CNBC said.