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Chipotle Mexican Grill enters mobile commerce arena

September 3, 2009

Burrito giant Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched an ordering application letting iPhone and iPod touch users place customized orders at the location of their choice.

The quick-service-restaurant brand’s first foray into mobile, Chipotle’s iPhone application leverages the device’s GPS functionality to find the location closest to the user and enables mobile ordering. A key feature of the application lets customers pay for their food directly from their mobile device.

“We wanted to create a user experience that is similar to what we offer in our restaurants, but using the iPhone platform,” said Chris Arnold, spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill, Denver. “It allows time-starved customers another way to access Chipotle in a way that’s relevant to them.

“Our core customers skew young, educated and more affluent than a typical fast-food customer,” he said. “It’s probably a close match to iPhone users.

“Having the app lets us deepen relationships with these customers by giving them a way to interact with us that is meaningful to them.”

Chipotle offers a menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads.

The Mexican grill opened its first restaurant in Colorado in 1993 and currently operates more than 860 restaurants nationwide.

Chipotle’s time-saving application is being released in conjunction with a newly updated Web-based ordering system available at

Customers can place orders through a secure credit-card payment capability that lets users save their information for quick repeat orders and an expanded group ordering feature that lets customers place multi-item orders under a single name.

The application also lets customers save their favorite Chipotle meals online, as well as those of friends, family or coworkers.

Using location-based technologies, customers can also quickly find the nearest Chipotle restaurant.

The Chipotle application is available as a free download in the App Store and at

The application was developed by Berkeley, CA-based mobile applications developer Pervasent and Chipotle’s internal IT team and designed by San Francisco-based Sequence.

Chipotle is promoting the application on its Web site and with signage in its stores.

While it has not been heavily promoted, it is a top-20 free application in the iTunes store a week after its initial release.

Although the company is a newcomer to the space, Chipotle sees a bright future for mobile commerce.

“While we haven’t quantified the market potential for mobile commerce, we have already seen some increase in our online ordering since launching the app, as orders made via the iPhone show up in our system as online orders,” Mr. Arnold said.

“Clearly, today’s mobile devices present much more opportunity in this area, and we’ll continue to explore those opportunities,” he said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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