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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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About Steven Johnson

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Do you know who your competitors are today?  Do you know what they are selling? Do you know what your customers think of their food?  No? Well, maybe it's time to get a Grocerant Scorecard completed by the Grocerant Guru.

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® and a recognized food industry thought leader. Johnson excels at vertical brand and product positioning, marketing strategy and business development specifically identifying, quantifying and qualifying niche opportunity for global foodservice related activity.  He can help place new products in non-traditional channels of distribution.

 With an emphasis in grocerant niche, his focus has been on better for you food that is fresh or prepared ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat.  He developed and implemented of the 5 P’s for food marketing for all retail foodservice companies, including chain drugstores, grocery stores, QSR’s and particularly C-store clients.

 During the past 15 years he has developed over 7.5 billion Dollars in avenues of new business revenue for clients and companies. His experience has focused primarily on C-level sales and brand  building opportunity with industry leading international companies including: The Procter & Gamble Company, Papa John’s International, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, Chi Chi’s, TGI Fridays, Fuddruckers,, Technomic, The Hartman Group.

 Prior to Foodservice Solutions, Johnson worked for the US Department of the Navy, where he led the development of Parcheesi’s Pizza Pasta Plus for global roll out and implementation including the development of the first dockside mobile pizza kitchen for use by the US Navy during the first Gulf War.

Johnson holds a Master’s of Science in Food Marketing degree with distinction from Saint Joseph’s University and a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of San Francisco. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Business School Honor Society.  Johnson has received numerous awards including 3 EMMEY; Awarded by 3M for “Outside the box” thinking and team leadership. Food Marketing Award; Awarded by Saint Joseph’s University, Outstanding Service Award issued by the Boy Scouts of America.

Don't get trapped doing what you have always done. Position your company with the evolving consumer. Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P's of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization? That's simple, call for Outside Eyes call the Grocerant Guru. Email Steve at: or visit: for more information. Visit us at, or tweet Steve at

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