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Chipotle ordering app approaches 750K downloads in App Store

May 4, 2010

Chipotle relies on viral word-of-mouth spread to drive app downloads

Chipotle relies on viral word-of-mouth spread to drive app downloads

Quick-service restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is approaching three-quarters of a million downloads of its ordering application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, generated almost exclusively via viral word-of-mouth spread.

The burrito giant’s ordering application lets iPhone and iPod touch users place customized orders at the restaurant location of their choice and pay for their food directly from their mobile device. While the download totals Chipotle has achieved are nothing to shake a stick at, one has to wonder what eye-popping figures the brand could have achieved with a targeted click-to-download mobile advertising buy or two.

“We’re over the 700,000 mark on iPhone app downloads, but we haven’t disclosed any kind of sales data related to iPhone orders—and we won’t be doing so,” said Chris Arnold, spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill, Denver. “We are exploring possibilities for apps for other platforms including BlackBerry and Android, but no plans or timelines are in place for those.

“In terms of marketing the app, we’ve done that mostly with PR, social media and through the listing on the Apple iTunes store,” he said. “We haven’t advertised it.”

Chipotle’s iPhone application, released last September, was the quick-service-restaurant brand’s first foray into mobile.

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.

App-etite for mobile commerce
The Chipotle application for iPhone and iPod touch leverages the mobile device’s GPS functionality to find the location closest to the user and enables mobile ordering.

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

Chipotle’s time-saving application was 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

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

While it has not been heavily promoted, it was a top-20 free application in the iTunes store a week after its initial release. A mobile ad burst could have easily helped the application surpass the one million threshold by this time.

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

“Mobile commerce isn’t something we’ve studied or attempted to forecast, but there is certainly potential in that arena going forward,” Mr. Arnold said. “Smartphones are enabling more and more mobile commerce and that trend is certainly going to continue.

“For now, we simply think the iPhone ordering app is a great way to extend the experience we provide and give our customers another way to interact with Chipotle,” 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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