- El Pollo Loco will offer GPS-enabled curbside pickup starting Sept. 28. Customers will be able to order curbside pickup using the company's website or its Loco Rewards App, Andy Rebhun, vice president of digital at El Pollo Loco, said in an email. Customers using the Loco Rewards App will receive notifications to check in when they arrive at the restaurant and employees will bring orders to their vehicles. Guests will also be able to use the website for web-based notifications, Rebhun said.
- El Pollo Loco also launched a revamped Loco Rewards program on Thursday offering members one point for every $1 they spend with a $5 reward received after every 50 points earned, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. Customers will receive free chips and guacamole upon signing up.
- The rewards revamp also provides in-app frequency challenges with rewards for the number of visits and repeat purchases of certain products.
While many restaurant chains have added curbside pickup since the pandemic, few have offered GPS-enabled functionality. Many chains require customers to call the restaurant to tell staff they have arrived to pick up their orders, which can be logistically challenging if multiple people are picking up orders at the same time. Using an app-based system to notify staff upon arrival can create a more seamless experience and reduce wait times.
Toppers Pizza rolled out curbside delivery that automatically notifies staff of a customer's arrival shortly after the pandemic hit, and the channel grew to become 40% of sales by mid-May, Scott Gittrich, Toppers Pizza CEO, said. Panera added the feature in May, while DoorDash added a customer tracking feature for pickups allowing restaurant staff to know when customers are in the parking lot on their way to collect their takeout orders.
For El Pollo Loco, the new technology fits within its long-term technology strategy.
"The curbside launch is also a part of our ongoing commitment to further digitizing the business, which began last year with an overhaul of our digital media infrastructure, including rebuilding the El Pollo Loco website and mobile app," Rebhun said.
While drive-thru, which made up 75% of sales during Q2, will likely remain king at the chain, the additional channel will help provide another way for customers to order ahead without having to wait in line.
“We believe the addition of curbside pickup will provide additional peace of mind for our customers to safely access our offerings as curbside service is seen as one of the safest ways to access food off-premise,” Bernard Acoca, El Pollo Loco CEO, told investors during an earnings call.
Having curbside pickup available through the rewards program will also help boost digital sales. By the end of Q2, loyalty rewards purchases made up 10% of the company’s sales mix year-to-date and is expected to comprise 12.5% of sales by the end of the year, Acoca said on the call.