If you wonder why Chipotle is killing it when it comes to loyalty and digital sales, look no further than the keynote presentation from Logan Hull, Director of Digital Restaurant Experience & Managing Director of Robotics, at the Food On Demand Conference in Las Vegas May 4-6. The company’s vision is crystal clear: Chipotle is not a technology company; it’s a food and people company, super-charged by tech.
“We don’t want automation to sterilize the experience. When we talk about Chipotle being a food and people company, that culture is really well understood and we celebrate and support it. Especially in tech, when it’s easy to lose sight of the why behind the what,” she said.
When Chipotle tapped Miso Robotics to deliver Chippy, the robot tasked with making the company’s famous chips, first and foremost it was critical that Chippy made great chips. “We partnered with Miso to teach them the recipe, step-by-step, then translated that into software and engineering requirements. It’s really important that we take that level of detail and care with any type of tech that will affect our food and people.”
Since the brand’s digital business is 40 percent of total sales and its loyalty program, just three years in and 27 million strong, everyone wants in on the secret sauce. Hull pointed to the digital ordering experience as table stakes. “Customer expectation has never been higher.” Acing order accuracy, delivering on time, every time, and consistency: all are critical to get right, because that’s what matters to Chipotle customers. By providing benefits to the order ahead experience, and the convenience of Chipotlanes, the brand offers guests a reason to engage on-site; however, Chipotle is ready and willing to meet customers wherever they want to access the brand.
Making the Chipotlane the most convenient way to access your favorite fix is a smart way to steer customers in a desired direction, and the company is investing heavily in the drive-thru. With the recent announcement to double the US store count, Hull revealed 80 percent of new locations will have a Chipotlane. She also hinted that collaborative robotics (cobotics) and automation may show up in the physical restaurant design, as well as walk-up windows to serve as a convenient access point in high foot traffic areas. There may even be locations with only walk-up and Chipotlane options.
With hefty investments in technology and innovative store design on the horizon, the brand remains true to being a food and people company. “We’re thinking beyond Chippy, diving deep into understanding moments of friction. We’re not interested in robotics as a PR stunt,” Hull concluded.