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Log In / Register | May 25, 2018

With Complexity-Free Ordering, Panera Bread Hears You

A foodservice trend that will be heard but not seen in 2018 is voice activated ordering. I have been using Google Home more and more every week. Every week there is something that I find, like and use. Well, now here is one more — Google Assistant, which can be on an iPhone, Google Phone, or Android device.

Google Home recently announced that Panera Bread was becoming one of the first national concepts to offer the ability of consumers to order Rapid Pick-Up delivery by voice on their mobile device with Google Assistant.

My Panera members in select cities, including St. Louis and Silicon Valley at participating locations, are eligible to place and pay for their orders using the virtual personal assistant platform. Panera expects the rollout to go national by the end of 2017, so get ready as voice ordering will be big in 2018.

Here is how it works. Customers can tell Google Assistant: “OK Google, ask Panera for delivery,” or “OK Google, talk to Panera.” The Panera app will then pop up and show users Panera's menu. It will also suggest past items based on the customer's history and take the guest through the menu. You can then pay from saved wallet information.

Why is this so important?

Ron Shaich, Panera’s founder, chairman, and CEO, in a statement said, “About 30 percent of total company-wide sales are digital at this point. Since it launched Panera 2.0 in 2014, the chain has grown with Rapid Pick-Up, fast lane kiosks, catering, and delivery."

How much is that?

"With more than 1.3 million digital orders placed a week at Panera, there is a clear demand for voice-activated ordering methods, and this integration with Google is a step towards an even better guest experience,” according to Shaich.

Blaine Hurst, Panera’s president, stated: “Voice-activated ordering powered by artificial intelligence is the future. We know the industry is in its infancy….. While we know we still have a lot to learn, we’re proud to develop, test and refine this capability in partnership with Google. In the long run, the ease and convenience will be meaningful to our guests.  In fact, placing a voice-activated order in many cases is more than 80 percent faster than a traditional app order.”

Leaders lead, and when Panera leads expect others to follow, according to Johnson.  Other brands, the ilk of Wingstop, Domino’s and Pizza Hut, have added voice-activated ordering. With 2018 only three weeks away, how are you adding customer relevance to your brand?

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