Restaurant innovation

Inside Chipotle’s Decade Of Digital-First Ordering Innovation

A convenient and seamless ordering experience from online and mobile channels is essential for restaurant customers. Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have heard the call for innovative digital ordering capabilities, with several major brands stepping up their investments in this area.

The December Order To Eat Tracker® highlights the latest technologies, innovations and collaborations that are altering the restaurant landscape from self-driving vehicles, car-side delivery models and other innovations. The Tracker also delves into the different ways restaurants are adding tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to their ordering portfolios.

Recent Developments From the Restaurant Front

As customers expect more convenient ordering and delivery experiences, several restaurant chains are turning to automation to make digital order fulfillment more seamless.

Pizza chain Domino’s, for example, is planning to test self-driving vehicle technology in one major metro region. The company has partnered with autonomous technology firm Nuro with plans to put driverless delivery vehicles to work in Houston, Texas, by the end of 2019. The partnership will allow customers who order with driverless vehicles to get mobile notifications and access codes when their orders are close by.

Fellow fast food chain KFC, meanwhile, is adding automation to its kitchen operations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company will deploy delivery-focused kitchen management solutions from ConnectSmart to more than 900 locations in these two global markets. The goal of the investment is to enhance fulfillment speeds and decrease the rate of errors on orders.

New restaurant models are also being tested in other markets. Delivery service provider DoorDash recently announced that it will test ghost or virtual kitchens in an effort to expand its delivery offerings and mobile delivery platform. DoorDash’s experiment will take place in Redwood, California, and will allow local residents to place orders from brands including Giant Hamburgers, The Halal Guys and Rooster & Rice.

Deep Dive: Enhancing Customer Service With CRM Tools

Several QSRs are turning to customer relationship management (CRM) systems in an effort to both improve customer relations and boost their bottom lines. Fast food giant McDonald’s, for example, is using AI-powered digital drive-thru menus to recommend items based on customer and environmental data.

The Tracker’s Deep Dive explores how QSRs are tapping CRM solutions to improve order accuracy and enhance customers’ ordering experiences.

Chipotle Folds AI Into its Digital Offerings

QSR chain Chipotle Mexican Grill was one of the first major restaurant chains to turn to mobile ordering technology to enhance customer dining experiences. More than a decade later, Chipotle’s mobile investment has paid off with roughly 18 percent of revenues originating from digital orders. The company is continuing to pursue its innovation agenda with the recent launch of AI-powered tools, including a phone ordering system and a reorder skill through Amazon Alexa.

In the Tracker’s Feature Story, Nicole West, Chipotle’s vice president of Digital Strategy and Product, discusses how the company’s digital ordering menu is just as essential as its restaurant menu.

About The Tracker

The Order To Eat Tracker®, a PYMNTS and Paytronix collaboration, is a monthly report that examines the evolving restaurant space. The report highlights how fast food, fast-casual and QSR establishments are embracing technology, enhancing loyalty offerings and working with aggregated service providers to offer more seamless in-house and delivery ordering experiences, and improve customer engagement.

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