ECOMMERCE

Fast-casual chain steps up its mobile experience

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Chipotle Mexican Grill is making a move to retain existing customers and attract new ones.

The fast-casual chain is partnering with Deloitte Digital to transform its mobile customer experience. The creative digital consultancy within Deloitte Consulting LLP, will redesign Chipotle's iOS and Android ordering apps, a move that will improve digital ordering and enhance the customer experience. The new apps will launch in the fall, with additional channels following by the end of the year.

The new mobile apps are designed to better reflect Chipotle's brand, while improving overall business performance and reducing friction in the ordering process. Functionality includes easier customization of meals, identification of nearby store locations and calculating pickup times. The redesigned mobile experience will also include enhanced payment options including Apple and Android pay, according to Chipotle.

Advanced mobile payment functionality will benefit the chain in the long run. When customers use technology to place an order with a quick service restaurant, average spend increases 20% per visit, and the frequency of visits to that restaurant increases by 6%, according to data from Deloitte.

"We're always looking to give our customers easier, more convenient ways to order and enjoy Chipotle food, and a great mobile ordering experience is right in line with that goal," said Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle. "Deloitte Digital brings the data, insights and technology needed to help us grow our digital channels, and meet our customers where they are with the same fast, friendly ordering experience they get in our restaurants."

This enhanced mobile customer experience is part of a greater initiative that Chipotle is investing in to help drive growth in the digital channel. For example, the company previously announced that it is redesigning ordering website, online catering, additional out-of-store payment options, "Smarter Pickup Times," and an integrated marketing campaign.

All of these initiatives coincide with the chain’s efforts to lure customers back to its restaurants following a chain of events that took a toll on the brand’s reputation and sales. These include a data breach this past spring, as well as a wave of food safety incidents in 2015.

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ENERGY/HVAC

Home Depot in big solar initiative

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation's largest home improvement retailer has found a new use for its store roofs.

The Home Depot is partnering with GE's Current unit and Tesla on a rooftop solar project in 50 stores across five states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Colombia.) The initiative will reduce electricity grid demand by an estimated 30% to 35% annually at each location. Under a power purchase agreement, Home Depot will lease its roof space and buy the output from the systems.

The new rooftop solar project is part of the Home Depot's ongoing efforts to utilize 135 megawatts (MW) of alternative and renewable energy by 2020. Other alternative and renewable energy projects include:

Solar farms in Delaware and Massachusetts with a combined annual output of 14.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh);

Fuel cells in use at more than 170 stores and distribution centers that produce roughly 90% of the electricity each store needs to operate; and

The 50 MW Los Mirasoles Wind Farm northeast of McAllen, Texas, announced this January, and The Zopiloapan Wind Farm located in central Mexico, added this June.

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ECOMMERCE

eBay helps social media powerhouse boost marketplace sales

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Facebook is getting in on the “daily deals” game.

The social media giant is teaming up with eBay to bolster third-party sales. Through the collaboration, Facebook’s Marketplace service — a section on its mobile app — now features a selection of inventory from eBay’s Daily Deals program, according to TechCrunch.

The deals will encompass products across the consumer electronics, fashion, and home & garden categories. Approximately 100 new items will be posted daily, and deals can be shared via SMS or Facebook Messenger — which will link to the deal via eBay’s ShopBot app. A countdown reveals how long the deals are available, and each item also displays the percentage off, the report said.

The Marketplace launched last fall. Originally created as a way to aggregate the social network’s “for sale” postings across various “buy and sell” groups, it’s intended to deliver an easier, more centralized way to search and shop for items from local sellers. Users can also list their own items, and chat with buyers or sellers via Marketplace’s integration with Messenger. But it has morphed into a peer-to-peer marketplace — not a source for deals from third-party websites, like eBay, according to TechCrunch.

Further extending the breadth of the Marketplace, Facebook announced on Monday that it is rolling out the service to 17 new countries across Europe, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. These will join six other countries — Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.K. — that recently launched the service.

In May, more than 18 million new items posted for sale in Marketplace in the United States, and that number continues to grow, according to Facebook.

To read more, click here.

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