Panera opens digital-only restaurant in Chicago


ST. LOUIS— Panera Bread has opened its first all-digital restaurant in Chicago. “Panera To Go” will only offer Panera fast pick-up and delivery orders. Panera plans to open two more Panera To Go test sites in California and Washington, DC this year. Stores are designed for densely populated areas that cannot accommodate a cafe-bakery-restaurant.

The Panera To Go facade does not offer seating and is currently testing delivery and quick pick-up on shelves that customers and delivery drivers can easily access. According to Panera, because there are fewer in-room tasks and streamlined operations, “Panera To Go associates are solely focused on meeting the unique needs of an on-the-go customer.” Panera To Gos is intended to serve all parts of the day, including breakfast.

“We strive to make it easy for our customers to access the menu prepared by Panera’s chef, in the most convenient way. Panera To Go creates another access point for our customers, through fast pick-up or delivery, in places where Panera has never operated,” said Eduardo Luz, Brand and Concept Manager at Panera Bread.

At the end of 2021, 81% of Panera’s sales were made through one of Panera’s offsite channels, namely delivery, quick pickup, drive-thru and catering, while 49% of sales were digital in the first quarter of 2022. .

“We are well placed for this type of format. We are seasoned digital veterans, so it hasn’t been difficult for us to leverage operations and our digital infrastructure. It was a natural extension for us,” Chris Correnti, Panera’s senior vice president and offsite manager, told Forbes. “We will continue to develop our capabilities. Based on our first location, we are optimistic.

Panera’s loyalty program has nearly 47 million members, and Correnti told Forbes that his customers are used to accessing the brand digitally, so he expects high usage from those off-site locations alone. .

“We are expected to create new entry points for existing and new customers. We are agnostic about how our customers want to be served, and we build a model that works well for them the way they want it , whether it’s pickup, delivery or catering, we want to make sure we win and keep their business and we do that by meeting their changing needs,” Correnti said.

Forbes reports that the take-out menu is slightly different from Panera’s usual menu, and the goal of these digital-only models is to learn and adapt to get the menu and times as close to a traditional cafe as possible. , including for the day part of the breakfast. But to do this, the store will need enough manpower, and since the model requires a lot less staff, it should be achievable, according to Panera.

“It’s a light-labour model, with no cashiers or frontage to maintain and there’s no drive-thru,” Correnti said. “For us, it’s several times smaller (in staff) than a traditional cafe. As we go into this test, the work will be volume-based, but it’s several times smaller.

Panera recently expanded its Unlimited Coffee subscription to include self-serve drinks and renamed the program “Unlimited Sip Club”.

“We disrupted the coffee industry and made premium coffee available to everyone,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said in an interview with The Boston Globe. “It’s the future.”

Chaudhary says program members buy coffee eight times more often than other customers, and 30% of the time they add food to go with their drinks. Compared to customers who do not participate in the MyPanera loyalty program, coffee subscribers spent up to 11 times more money in 2021.

“When drink is no longer a barrier, customers are drawn to our best foods,” Chaudhary told the Boston Globe.

NACS Magazine looked at loyalty programs and how they can provide convenience retailers with essential consumer insights and competitive advantage in “Just Rewards”.

NACS offers a free webinar that will show you how to improve your current loyalty program.


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