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How Panera Bread made a successful pivot to frictionless dining

The company utilized Adobe Experience Platform to deliver a cohesive, data-driven experience across all delivery platforms

How Panera Bread made a successful pivot to frictionless dining
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The onset of COVID-19 last year reshaped daily life, and Panera Bread had to quickly redefine its role in a new environment. The company had just launched its unlimited coffee subscription, a program that guests were quick to adopt in early test markets, driving up both food orders and repeat visits to cafes. It was yet another benefit for loyalty members and a clever way to address an ongoing customer need. But within weeks of a nationwide rollout, those needs changed dramatically.

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Panera quickly pivoted to address the pandemic crisis head on: Its cafes quickly shifted to selling groceries when the national supply chain was constrained. It stood up curbside pickup and contactless delivery services in record time, providing a safer experience and peace of mind for guests. Panera also broadened its corporate social-responsibility efforts: In partnership with USDA and Children’s Hunger Alliance and, more recently, Jose Andres, Panera Bread invested in the work to combat hunger.

As vaccines ramp up and the focus turns toward reopening, Panera Bread is again taking the lead in redefining fast-casual dining. The company is placing digital services and technology at the forefront of its strategy, making the Panera experience more engaging by providing new ways to transact and engage with the brand. It allows teams to meet the expectations of a changing consumer base, which has become more digitally savvy.

As the volume of customer touchpoints increases across digital and physical channels, Panera Bread is working with Adobe Experience Cloud to deliver a cohesive and data-driven experience across the website, mobile app, email, in-store kiosks, and more. And with Adobe Experience Platform services, the company can meet the promise of real-time personalization for millions of customers.

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DELIVERING A FRICTIONLESS EXPERIENCE

For Panera Bread, delivering a frictionless experience breaks down into two main components. First, guests should be able to place orders when they want, where they want, and how they want. For some, it’ll be through an app while they’re on the go, while others prefer an in-store digital kiosk. Second, the company aims to be a leader in digital responsiveness and guest recovery when things don’t go the right way for guests.

Consider this scenario: A customer working from home decides to place an order online for curbside pickup. Through Panera’s geofencing technology, the café is automatically notified when the guest drives into the parking lot. A team member can bring their order out right away, or be there waiting as the guest pulls up to the café. It is a great experience so far, but once they get home, the customer sees an item is missing. They notify the company through the mobile app and with a few clicks, they get a credit for future use.

This is the bar that Panera Bread has set for the customer experience, where a wide set of capabilities can address any number of possible journeys.

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MULTICHANNEL SYNERGY

As Panera Bread expands the interactions that guests have with the company, the handoff and intuition between channels becomes even more important. Signals across the website, mobile app, and in-store activity need to be understood collectively, while also having a relation to a loyalty program that is more than 40 million members strong.

The company is working with Adobe to address this, making better use of data and receiving a more comprehensive view of the customer journey. With Adobe Experience Platform, services like Journey Orchestration and a Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RTCDP) will drive activation, harnessing cross-channel insights to deliver personalization at scale. It will help refine the ways in which customers reorder food and choose pickup options, while also ensuring that customers receive offers that are relevant.

“At Panera Bread, we pride ourselves on delicious food that people can feel good about eating,” says George Hanson, Panera Bread’s SVP and chief digital officer. “We set a high bar internally when it comes to fresh and responsibly sourced ingredients, as well as a commitment to transparency. Our digital strategy is focused on making great food accessible to all, removing any friction in the Panera experience and keeping customers coming back. As we roll out new capabilities, our partnership with Adobe Experience Cloud will provide us an accurate pulse on customer journeys, and enable us to orchestrate great experiences in the moments where it counts most.”