Chipotle–the burrito darling that lost its sheen after weathering a series of food safety scares–seems to be back on track. Its latest quarterly earnings beat all expectations, with an 8% increase in revenue to $1.3 billion, for which it has four things to thank: raising its prices, cheaper avocados (sweet, green profit margins!), a maturing delivery business, and a digital app that is growing at a phenomenal rate.
The latter is particularly notable because, until recently, Chipotle had a very limited digital strategy. In 2017, the company invested in a revamped app, and began building a new digital backend into its stores. That strategy is paying off faster than any analyst could have imagined–even though some of us might consider “the app” to be an anachronistic panacea for business woes in the modern era, a fix from the year 2010.
Chipotle’s digital sales grew 33% in the last single quarter after growing 20% the quarter before. That puts Chipotle’s digital sales at half a billion dollars, or about 10% of all Chipotle sales. Four million people are using Chipotle’s app and website each month, up 65% from a year ago. The app is resonating particularly well with millennials and Generation Z, the company reports. Once a younger person orders a burrito through the app, they likely will do so again.
The app itself is wonderfully streamlined. You choose delivery or pickup. And then you simply tap your way through photos of menu items and toppings to customize your order. You can even swipe right if you want extra carnitas or sofritas. After that, you choose the time you’d like to eat (it can be in a few minutes, or hours later). And you pay. It’s incredibly fast.