Using Facebook Messenger, Chipotle is introducing a concierge bot named Pepper, who will mimic the in-store ordering process on the platform. Pepper will work through Facebook online as well as through the Messenger mobile app. To begin their order, customers must visit the Chipotle page on Facebook and click “Message Us”. Pepper will then find the customer’s nearest restaurant using their geolocation and take their order as they would in a restaurant or through the Chipotle app, including customizing ingredient quantities and side orders. Customers can also pay through the Messenger app, and existing Chipotle Rewards members can put in their account information to redeem rewards. Orders made through Pepper are for pickup or delivery and are only available at U.S. locations at present.
Pepper joins the long list of digital capabilities Chipotle has introduced recently. At the beginning of the pandemic, the brand expanded its “Chipotlanes” for online order pickups, digitized second-make lines, and revamped its website. Now, in addition to introducing Pepper, the brand is also debuting group ordering from its website. The new feature lets multiple orderers share the same link to create one large order, which can then be tracked online by all participants. Chipotle has been committed to growing its customization options and loyalty program, according to a Gartner report, so it makes sense that its new features would emphasize those capabilities.
Lastly, in the wake of social protests, the brand is launching a “give back” program where guests can round up their bill to the next highest dollar amount and donate the change to organizations fighting systemic racism. Chipotle announced the rollout on Instagram and Twitter, including its first chosen organization, the National Urban League. Chipotle has already pledged $1 million to social justice organizations for the Black Lives Matter movement, including $500,000 to the National Urban League.
Introducing a donation element to its business plan could help Chipotle engage its socially active consumers, who may feel more encouraged to order if they know they are giving back at the same time. Even as restaurants begin to re-open following the pandemic, Chipotle’s new digital capabilities could continue to encourage mobile and digital ordering.