Chipotle Mexican Grill’s efforts to digitize the guest experience are paying off in spades, if the sales numbers are any indication. According to the company, digital sales totaled $158.6 million during the fourth quarter and represented 12.9% of sales.
For the full year, digital sales exceeded $0.5 billion and accounted for 10.9% of sales. App downloads increased 72% year-over-year in 2018, and we continue to see strong interest from new, infrequent, as well as frequent guests at Chipotle.
Last quarter, digital sales grew 66% year-over-year, a significant increase from the 48% the restaurant enjoyed in the previous quarter. Analysts agree that digital sales and marketing efforts are playing an instrumental role in moving the company past the reputational damage that was the result of the E.coli outbreaks in 2015 and the swell of negative publicity that followed.
More than 1,000 of the Mexican chain’s restaurants include a “digitized make-line,” a dedicated line for assembling digital orders. Digital pick-up shelves are in approximately 1,000 restaurants. By the end of the year, all Chipotle restaurants will include digitized make-lines and digital pick-up shelves, according to a company spokesperson. The company is also testing the waters on a new concept dubbed “Chipotlanes,” which let customers order online and pick up through a drive-thru lane in selected locations.