Fast Company has named Panera Bread one of the “World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Food.”
The magazine rated Panera No. 1 on its list for overhauling the QSR experience with technology and service. While other quick-service players like Starbucks roll out prepay and preorder technology, bakery-cafe chain Panera is going above that to reshape how diners interact with its cafes.
Panera 2.0, launched in 2014 and currently being rolled out across its 1,800 U.S. restaurants, includes innovations in the company's tech, cafe layout, and even staffing. To-go users can place a mobile order up to five days in advance and pick up food from a separate shelf in the restaurant, skipping the line. Dine-in users can choose to have their food brought to the table after ordering or order straight from the table—Panera staff locate them using RFID technology.
In-store ordering kiosks that connect to Apple Pay and the MyPanera loyalty program allow for more accurate customization and the ability for the restaurant to save user favorites, meaning fewer Panera employees are behind the counter taking orders and more are providing service (and upselling) on the floor. The chain is testing small-order delivery for orders over $5 for a larger rollout this year.