Published By Upzaar Team

How Chipotle Grew An Online Ordering System and Loyalty Program - A Case Study

Since its inception, Chipotle has been able to grow its customer base and loyalty program through its simple, easy-to-use ordering system. What started out as a small business now is a world-class online order system that has become one of the most successful in the world. In this article, we’ll take a look at how Chipotle has grown its online ordering system and loyalty program. As well as its marketing strategy and how it has used technology to drive growth.

Chipotle's History and Growth

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a fast-casual restaurant chain that specializes in Mexican-inspired cuisine. Founded in 1993, the company has grown to be in more than 2,500 locations worldwide. In recent years, Chipotle has been focused on growing its online ordering system and loyalty program. In the early 1990s, Steven Ells worked as a Colorado chef. He had an idea for a new type of restaurant serving high-quality meals made with fresh, natural ingredients. Chipotle was an instant hit, serving customers in less than 10 minutes. The restaurant became so popular that a long line often formed outside the front door.

Chipotle's Online Ordering System

Chipotle has a robust online ordering system that allows customers to order takeout and delivery, place an order for a catering event, or order online and pick up their meals nearby. Chipotle’s online ordering system was launched in 2009, which significantly impacted sales. The online ordering system accounts for a growing share of Chipotle’s sales. In 2017, online orders represented 16% of Chipotle’s revenue, up from 12% in 2016. Chipotle has been focusing on making its online ordering system more convenient. In 2018, the company enabled customers to pay for their orders with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice commands.

Chipotle Rewards

The program is designed to reward frequent customers and encourage them to visit more often. Chipotle’s loyalty program is a points-based system; all customers can join at no cost. The more customers visit Chipotle in a given year, the more points they earn. At certain thresholds, customers earn rewards, like free meals and coupons for future visits. Customers can use the reward program at Chipotle to redeem their points for free guacamole, drinks, and food. Diners can also use their points to donate to charities that help communities, farmers, and other causes.

  • Each dollar spent at the restaurant, online, or through the app earns Chipotle Rewards members 10 points. 1,250 points will get you a free meal.

  • An order of chips costs only 250 points, a side of guacamole 400 points, and a bottle of soda is 600 points under the new Rewards Exchange.

  • A kids' lunch costs 900 points, a quesadilla is 1,350 points, and $20 worth of Chipotle goods are additional choices. Customers who accumulate 8,750 points can purchase $35 worth of Chipotle goods.

Chipotle had 8.5 million reward members in February 2020, just before the pandemic began. Recently, the company entered into new partnerships to leverage the data from its rewards club for individualized marketing initiatives. But throughout the outbreak, Chipotle almost doubled the number of its reward members. The chain estimated that about 80% of its internet sales would remain consistent even when its dining rooms reopen.


Chipotle's Marketing Strategy

Chipotle’s marketing strategy has focused on building a strong brand image and appealing to many customers. The company has taken an unorthodox approach to marketing that has helped it stand out from the crowd. Chipotle has used real-time marketing to respond to any developments in the news. For example, the company created a special Halloween menu in response to the movie “Halloween” becoming a cult classic. The company also offered free entrees to customers after a norovirus outbreak in Boston. Instead of shying away from the outbreak, Chipotle used it as an opportunity to promote its food safety practices. The company hired celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver to promote its food safety practices and encourage customers to return to the restaurant. Bringing Customers Into the Kitchen was another way Chipotle has attracted attention. The company has partnered with celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray, Michael Voltaggio, and Andrew Zimmern to create original recipes for its menu items. These recipes have been used in marketing campaigns and served as inspiration for home cooks.


How Technology Has Helped Chipotle Grow

Chipotle is a prime example of companies using technology to grow its business. The company has focused on growing its online ordering system and loyalty program. Chipotle has used artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the ordering process and increase the number of orders. Chipotle’s app uses AI to recommend menu items based on customers' previous orders. If a customer orders a chicken burrito bowl, the AI will recommend ordering the same thing but with black beans instead of tofu. Chipotle tested this feature in a few markets before they released it to all locations at the end of 2019.

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