Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

June 04, 2014

Can Panera Bread's New Mobile App Help the Company Rise Again?

After posting weakening sales figures, Panera Bread is looking to revamp its operations and its reputation with a mobile app that was developed to help the company streamline its ordering process and make it easier for customers to customize their selections.

While the underlying causes of Panera’s financial concerns are complicated, the app aims to bring customers back through the doors by making it simpler to navigate the restaurant chain’s rather confusing ordering system.

Calling its turnaround “Panera 2.0,” company officials announced the first phase is already under way with the mobile app that allows rapid pickup. Customers can place custom orders via the app and designate the pick-up time. When they walk into the store, their order is waiting for them in a specific area.

Image courtesy Shutterstock

“We began to think about how we change that guest experience,” explained Ron Schaich, Panera CEO, in an interview with the Associated Press. “Why couldn't you order food on the Web, order your food in multiple ways and have the food made as you were driving to the store? Why couldn't you walk into the store, walk past the line that's always there? Walk over to a special area where your food is waiting for you?”

Panera is following the footsteps of other food chains—notably Starbucks—that are working through operational difficulties with investments in mobile commerce.

In addition to the ability to order food from a smartphone, the Panera Bread app also includes a store locator and the ability to browse menu items and nutrition information.

“We're entering a world where so many consumers are growing up in an omni-channel world,” Schaich said. “They want it where they want it and when they want it. And the reality is we're either going to have the capability of delivering into that or we're not.”

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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