Panera Bread, which operates 2,118 bakery-cafes in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names. has launched a new feature on its mobile app that allows guests to order meals on their own devices for plated dine-in service. Dubbed Contactless Dine-In, the new feature is designed to help guests avoid lines or shared devices like kiosks or pagers, and joins curbside, drive-thru, pick-up and delivery.
Members of Panera’s loyalty program who have push notifications enabled on the mobile app will be alerted of this new service as soon as they step into the bakery-café . Upon opening the app, guests just need to select the Dine-In option to place a contactless dine-In order and the café will receive the order. Once ready, the guest receives an email and, if opted in, can also choose to receive a text and/or push notification, and the food is served plated at the Panera pick-up counter. This just-in-time order ready notification allows guests to quickly get their meal, avoiding waiting at the counter.
“Panera is constantly innovating our technology to respond to the ever-shifting needs of our guests, and Contactless Dine-In is a great example; in fact, we sped up the national rollout to provide a solution for today’s guest concerns,” said George Hanson, SVP, Chief Digital Officer, Panera Bread, in a press statement.
Contactless Dine-In is designed for guests who would like to dine in the bakery-café, but would prefer to avoid waiting in the cashier line, using the kiosk, or waiting at the order pick-up area.
Restaurant technology innovation and adoption is nothing new for the 30-year-old company. Recent roll-outs include updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification, and a fully digitized
menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru.
Early in the pandemic, the Missouri-based company deployed next-generation technologies to improve the curbside meal pickup experience. In particular, it launched Panera Curbside, a geofence-enabled service designed to allows guests to safely and easily get their meals served straight to their car.
Panera was one of the first major restaurant chains to offer free Wi-Fi, extended its Wi-Fi radius beyond the bakery-cafe doors and implemented geofencing technology as the company strives to provide guests with a better and faster curbside experience. With the addition of geofencing, for those who opt-in, the bakery-cafe will be notified automatically when the guest arrives.
“In these unprecedented times, people are missing life’s small comforts, like going out for a meal with family. While we prioritize safety and convenience, we hope that Panera Curbside can be a natural extension of the Panera Warmth inside our bakery-cafes,” said Niren Chaudhary, Panera CEO, in a press statement at the time. “In the new world as it emerges, we are focused on how we can best serve our customers and meet them where they are. Our latest technology and Wi-Fi capabilities, combined with enhanced protective measures at bakery-cafes, make Panera Curbside a frictionless way to continue to enjoy the Panera experience you know and love.”
Looking to the future, Panera’s plans include blockchain and metaverse technologies. Just last week, the company filed a trademark application that will allow it to have NFTs that serve as digital currency to purchase virtual menu items. According to the application, Panera will develop virtual restaurants and real-life food delivery applications under the name “Paneraverse”.