Most In­no­va­tive Com­pa­nies

Fast Company - - Contents - —David Lid­sky

The lat­est from Pan­era Bread, Drop­box, Etsy, CVS, and more.

Pan­era Bread

The soup-and-sand­wich café chain has been re­think­ing cus­tomer ser­vice across its 2,000-plus out­lets, im­ple­ment­ing a series of tech­nol­ogy-in­fused ini­tia­tives it calls Pan­era 2.0. The pro­ject drives or­ders through dig­i­tal plat­forms that sim­plify food prep in the back of the house while ex­pe­dit­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. And it’s pay­ing off: Twenty-four per­cent of the com­pany’s sales are made through in-store kiosks, on the web, or on the Pan­era app (only the pizza gi­ants drive more dig­i­tal busi­ness), and 9% of cus­tomers opt to or­der ahead and pick up in a café. Pan­era’s same­store sales growth in 2016 was 4.2%, well above the in­dus­try av­er­age. “We asked our­selves, ‘What’s go­ing to be next?’ ” says CEO Ron Shaich, “and then we made the long-term com­mit­ment to build it our­selves.”

The com­pany’s new big push is in de­liv­ery, which it’s now rolling out across Amer­ica. No­tably, Pan­era uses its own cafés to ful­fill or­ders—and hires its own driv­ers. “We tested with Uber, Post­mates, and Do­or­dash,” says pres­i­dent Blaine Hurst, “but we couldn’t scale. No one has a na­tional foot­print that over­laps with us.” The av­er­age de­liv­ery or­der is $22, more than twice that of in-store or­ders, and Hurst be­lieves it will add around a quar­ter-mil­lion dol­lars per year to each store’s av­er­age an­nual rev­enue of $2.6 mil­lion. “Our rapid pickup ser­vice, de­liv­ery, cater­ing, and Pan­era at Home [ready-to-eat meals sold in gro­cery stores] all have the po­ten­tial to be $1 bil­lion– plus run­ways for us,” says Shaich. The plat­forms also help Pan­era im­prove its “de­sire-to-fric­tion ra­tio,” a met­ric Shaich ob­sesses over. “We’re win­ning at fric­tion re­duc­tion,” says Hurst. “But to re­ally win you have to drive de­sire.”

Cus­tomers at some Pan­era lo­ca­tions can or­der via a small touch­screen tablet.

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