A Techie Among Fast Casual Restaurants – Panera Bread

Give Yourself A Break Before It’s Too Late

After have gained at least 10 pounds in last two months, all I want for lunch/dinner (Is there a thing called breakfast?) is something not too heavy. When I roaming the streets, the signs that catch my eyes are only those so-called fast casual restaurants.

Shake Shack, a burger chain that serves a kind of burger with no meat in it. Chick-Fil-A, one of my favorite sandwich chain, definitely a wonderful choice when feeling like some light burger & fries. Lenwich, a NY local chain, which serves the best tasting sandwich in 20 miles radius. My backup plan, Panera Bread, which is a super-fast casual restaurant for me, and their delicious soup and bread just worth every penny I paid.

Why Panera

What makes Panera Bread so fast? I would say it is the deployment of technology. If you have ever go to a Panera Bread restaurant, the first thing you see will be some kiosks that surrounded by people. The waiting lines for counter and pick up are short, compared with Shake Shack ridiculously long line that loops round and round the block. Not only the in-restaurant technology makes the user experience at Panera Bread so pleasant, but also the well-developed APPs on mobile devices.


(Image from https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/our-beliefs/food-as-it-should-be-nopt.html)

In-store Experience

The kiosks in the Panera Bread are used with the self-pick up shelves. After people have finish ordering on the kiosks, they may expect that their food is packed and placed on the shelves no more than 5-10 mins. There’s also a giant screen next to the shelves shows how many people are in front of you, so there’s no need to physically wait on lines. The user experience of this feature has greatly simplified the ordering process, giving people more time to enjoy their meals and sip a cup of coffee in their short lunch breaks.


(Image from http://kioskindustry.org/kiosks-keep-their-cool/)

img_11832Panera Bread APP

The Panera APP is super straight forward. It is mainly designed for online ordering and loyalty program. The interface is very clean, which only a few buttons and a CLEAN background picture will catch your eye. I believe it convey the value held by Panera Bread, which is “Clean” and “Food as it should be.”

The “Start Your Order” button clearly makes no confusion about the meaning of the existence of the APP. The ordering process is as easy as it should be, and there are many alternative choices available just as if you were using a kiosk in a Panera site. So, I believe most people would think it is a pleasurable experience.

Panera Bread Offical Website

Panera Bread has a well-designed website, which emphasizes a lot on “Clean” and “Food as it should be.”Since it has no special feature when comparing with other fast casual restaurant chains, let’s skip this part.


(Image from https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html)

QQ截图20170221155003.jpgAs for their social media accounts, it is obvious that their good days have gone. Customers leave only the negative comments on Panera’s posts, such as “This is how Panera Bread gives you “Croutons”. This is a picture of before I took any out for my soup. After 2 crumbs I threw them out that’s how gross they were.” It is not what it look like couple years ago (see the image at left side).

It seems like that the brand is no longer as fascinating as it before. Even though the customer care center promptly contacts the people who got troubles, the brand is still going to be damaged whenever people see the comments.

All in All

Undoubtedly, Panera is doing a great job on smoothing the customer experience and selling their values through digital platforms. My only wish to them is that they can do a better job on dealing with complaints.

Thanks for reading this blog. 🙂


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