Panera Bread announced a partnership with Amazon on Wednesday to bring a contactless palm reader payment option to in-store guests, courtesy of Amazon One. Panera says it is the first national restaurant chain to debut this technology, which allows users to link their credit card payment with their unique hand signature, and simply wave their hand to pay for their Panera sandwich or salad.
The technology will be initially tested at two St. Louis Panera locations, with plans to expand to 10-20 more, including stores in the Seattle market, over the next several months.
Though this is not the first contactless payment solution Panera Bread has offered, George Hanson, the company’s senior vice president and chief digital officer, said that not many guests had previously used options like Apple Pay. However, with this new partnership, they hope to bring the ease of digital transactions in-store, sans fumbling of wallets and credit cards.
Customers also have the option to link their MyPanera rewards account with Amazon One, so that when they hover their hand to pay for lunch, they’ll be able to interact more with the brand:
“When you walk into a café and come up to the cash register, if you’ve registered for Amazon One and linked it to your MyPanera account, you hover your palm over the Amazon One device and automatically, the associate knows who you are, if you have rewards available on your account, what your favorites are, and what your last order was,” Hanson said. “They can really learn to help you.”
Essentially, the purpose of the Amazon One device is both to remove the physical friction of paying for your food at a cash register and to introduce more customized and personalized touchpoints for the customer. Amazon says that since the feature is opt-in (you must physically hover your hand for it to register your presence), it’s more secure and safe than biometric data, especially since you cannot tell someone’s identity by looking at their palm.
“It’s just another example where we start with the strategy of making the guest experience in the cafe just as or even more personalized than what we've already done on the app and with all of our digital properties,” Hanson said.
This is just one of the many ways Panera is trying to push personalized and customizable brand experiences, both online and in-store. The company is currently focusing most of its efforts on the Unlimited Sip Club, the first-of-its-kind drink membership service, which was recently expanded to include Panera’s entire line of beverages, not just coffee and tea.
But beyond the beverage membership service, Panera has also quietly rolled out more customizable rewards, so that MyPanera members can choose how to cash in their rewards points.
“In the past, we give you a reward, and it was you take it or leave it,” Hanson said. “So, if you got $2 off a chicken sandwich but don’t eat chicken sandwiches, you wouldn’t use it. Now, we've converted that to offer you three rewards, and you get to choose which one is most relevant for you, moving down the path of personalization […] We want to continue to grow our digital sales penetration, our loyalty base, and our Unlimited Sip Club. When we do all three of those things, we introduce a better guest experience.”
Interested customers can sign up for Amazon One online through Amazon or in-person the next time they order at a Panera café. Guests that have previously enrolled in Amazon One through Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, or Whole Foods, they can just link their MyPanera account to their previously existing Amazon One account.
Contact Joanna at [email protected]