Panera Bread has added contactless curbside pickup with geofencing technology to its growing roster of off-premise dining options, including rapid pick-up, drive-thru, delivery and catering. Previously, when customers ordered rapid pickup, once they ordered online, they had to text or call the store to let them know they had arrived. The new curbside pickup technology eliminates that step with the geofencing Wi-Fi technology which extends Panera’s free WiFi beyond its café to the parking lot so that employees are automatically notified when a customer arrives to pick up their order.
Although right now the JAB Holding brand offers both rapid and curbside pickup options, eventually curbside pickup will likely replace rapid pickup since it is an easier option for customers, a Panera spokesperson said.
“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,” Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a statement. “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.”
Here's how it works: Customers choose curbside pickup when they’re ordering on the Panera website or mobile app and in the special instructions of the order they list the make, model and color of the car they’ll be arriving in, and then drive to the Panera, where their food will be brought to their car using contactless social distancing protocols. Customers that don’t opt in to this technology will have to let the store know when they arrive.
The new initaitive is part of Panera’s ongoing business pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes groceries added to menus, plexiglass barriers in cafes and drive-thrus, thermometers and hand sanitizer available at all cafes, and new anti-microbial screens that can help protect customers ordering from kiosks.
Panera is introducing the new technology to customers by offering $5 off any $20 order when customers choose the curbside pickup option.
Panera did not respond in time to request for further details on the new technology.
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