How Chipotle Is Cultivating A New Approach To Menu Innovation

Nothing takes your hunger away like a large cheese, chicken, and hot salsa-filled burrito. You're in luck if you're not only looking for quesadillas and taco bowls but also want to maximize on convenient food options when looking for a quick lunch: Chipotle is fast-tracking technology advancements to its business model to propel efficiency and increase customer engagement. The popular Mexican eatery decided to charge full steam ahead when they saw the rise of digital sales in 2020, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company saw an increase of over 20% in online sales in 2021 versus 2020 and sees its number one growth factor as the expansion of new-age technology to drive online transactions (via Forbes).

With the pickup window options of the brands Chipotlane's beginning to open at the end of 2021 (per Business Insider) and more member incentive deals on the table like the return of guac mode and customer's ability to exchange loyalty points for a slew of options like free drinks or donations to one of the many supported non-profits (via PR Newswire), the popular food chain's business is on the rise. You would think with the surge of inflation, the company may be cutting back. However, according to Restaurant Business, the brand has been able to raise prices by 4% and the company's overall revenue has risen 16% compared to 2021. Chipotle is forging ahead in more ways than one and its next stop is modernizing the popular menu.

Chipotle plans to change the food industry

Chipotle plans to open over 235 stores nationwide in 2022 (per Restaurant Business). The chain also plans to enhance technological advancements in its delivery protocol and commit to transparency behind allotted food systems. In addition to testing a robotic tortilla chip maker, Chipotle invested in a robotic self-driving delivery service called Nuro to spark innovation for efficiency in the company's drive to increase digital transactions (via CNBC). Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner suggests the idea of technology-enhanced capabilities will also be considered. The major food company has the ability to pour some money into sustainable farming practices to ensure food availability, and to provide customers with unique menu offerings.

Apart from the new menu items this year like "responsibly raised chicken" and Chipotle's first seasonal summer beverage, the company is also moving with the times by creating meat-less options such as plant-based chorizo you can customize as a "lifestyle bowl" exclusively through the Chipotle mobile app. According to Curt Garner, "nothing is off the table" when it comes to the Mexican eatery's drive for improving the sales and quality of their products (via CNBC). For the ever-growing food chain, the world is their oyster — or in this case, burrito.