When the pandemic forced lockdowns in March 2020, U.S.-based fast-casual eatery Chipotle joined other restaurants in quickly shifting from in-person service to online ordering, curbside pickup, and third-party delivery. Digital sales would jump 174% year-over-year in 2020. But Chipotle was already moving in the digital direction, in ways both visible and behind the scenes, which proved an advantage.
In early 2019, the company began rolling out "Chipotlanes," letting customers place orders on the restaurant's app or website and picking them up without leaving the car. That was a big change for a restaurant where customers had always gone inside and watched their fresh food being prepared.
Less obvious was that when lockdowns went into effect, Chipotle was in the midst of moving its finance systems to the cloud. That migration from Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, which began in January 2020 and was completed on schedule in August 2020, gave the company an edge in adapting to a suddenly digital world.
"From an accounting perspective, we were able to scale for the increase in digital sales quickly, and we are now able to automatically reconcile every transaction that comes in digitally with a 99.9% match rate," says Ben Thompson, director of accounting at Chipotle. "Our accounting team probably would have had to double in size if we didn't have this technology."
The swift rise in charges from a wide range of food delivery services was one area where automated account reconciliation saved staff time-and saved the company money. For example, if one of those delivery partner transactions is billed at $10, but because of a rebate or promotion the sale was actually $8, the new system can quickly identify that discrepancy and ensure that Chipotle pays the correct amount. Thompson estimates that this automated capability alone has saved the company millions of dollars already.