Panera is set to roll out revamped loyalty identification tech and contactless payments at select stores. The initiative is designed to support the bakery chain's MyPanera membership program.
Panera has teamed up with Amazon One to fuel the innovations, deploying the technology at select stores in Panera’s native St. Louis with plans to expand to additional locations over the next few months. Guests who link their MyPanera account to Amazon One will be able to make faster, contactless payments, but also receive customized meal recommendations based on previous purchases and first-name greetings from Panera associates.
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The bakery-cafe chain is no stranger to digital innovations. Over the last year and a half, Panera has rolled out a number of tech-enabled store improvements, including a digital-only “Panera To Go” pick-up format focused solely on mobile and online order and delivery. These plans represent a broader move towards off-premise dining for the chain. At the end of 2021, 81% of Panera’s sales were from their off-premise channels, including delivery, rapid pick-up, drive-thru, and catering. And according to the company, at the end of 2021, nearly half (44%) of Panera bakery-cafes also had a drive-thru.
In April 2022, Panera also took a swing at AI-driven coffee-making, leveraging data and predictive analytics to monitor metrics such as volume, temperature, and time data across the brewing process. The initiative was designed to support Panera’s unlimited coffee subscription service, the Unlimited Sip Club, which launched in 2020 and allows subscribers to drink unlimited tea and coffee for $8.99/month.