Don’t underestimate the power of digital to boost sales

Chipotle Mexican Grill may be testing new menu items in limited markets across the U.S., but the company’s CEO doesn’t foresee it being the top driver part of its strategy to regain market share and boost sales.

While the company will continue to test a variety of items — nachos, avocado tostadas and bacon — and launch some limited time offers like chorizo, it plans to be more focused in other areas of the business like improving its digital capabilities.

“I don’t think new menu news is the primary unlock,” Brian Niccol, the head executive at Chipotle, said on an earnings conference call Thursday. “I think it plays a role. But I think the digital access, removing friction … is a big unlock for the Chipotle business.”

Inthe third quarter, digital sales grew 48.3 percent and now account for 11.2 of overall sales, the company said.

Niccol, who once held the top spot at Taco Bell, is known for encouraging creativity in the kitchen, but also for his push to make ordering easier for diners and employees. Since joining Chipotle in March, Niccol has championed upgrades to the company’s mobile app, its internal software and in-restaurant technology.

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