Chipotle Mexican Grill has the best online ordering experience among food and beverage brands, consumers say.
That's according to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans by market research firm Ipsos, which asked diners about the ecommerce programs at 12 national restaurant brands to determine which were the best and why.
Consumers praised Chipotle for having a simple online ordering process and pickup stations that are easy to find, though they said communication around how, where and when to pick up their food was lacking.
It's not a surprise that the Mexican fast casual came out on top: It has invested heavily in its digital channels over the past few years, adding things like Chipotlanes and second make lines for online orders. Those orders accounted for more than half of the chain's sales in the first quarter of 2021 on year-over-year growth of 133.9%.
Consumers' other favorites are perhaps less obvious. Coming in at No. 2 for online ordering was Panda Express, with consumers highlighting its easy-to-use ordering interface. No. 3 was Subway. Customers singled it out for a smooth ordering experience as well as easy in-store pickup, although they said the chain's curbside pickup system was lacking in guidance and parking.
In general, the study found that the main areas of focus should be ease of ordering, communication around pickup, and timeliness and accuracy of orders.
"Ordering portals that were easy to navigate led to higher scores; platforms that weren’t user-friendly raised complaints almost without exception," Ipsos said.
Those areas warrant restaurants' attention because online ordering appears to be here to stay. Ipsos found that 78% of Americans increased their use of in-store and curbside pickup since the pandemic began, and 69% expect to continue using it at those same levels, if not higher.
"As we continue to see the adoption and usage of digital offerings rise, it is critical for brands to ensure a seamless and safe end-to-end e-commerce experience to keep customers coming back," said Carlos Aragon, vice president of Ipsos Channel Performance, in a statement.
Ipsos also asked consumers about the ecommerce programs at 14 grocery chains. Shoppers' favorites in that sector were H-E-B, Publix and Aldi.