- Panera Bread added Crunch Time Ordering exclusively for MyPanera members on the Panera iOS app, the company said in a Wednesday press release.
- The free feature lets guests program their favorite meals “to be ordered at a set date and time with just a single swipe.” The app will send a reminder to place the order for pickup or delivery, which is then completed with a swipe within the app.
- This is the latest in a long stream of tech enhancements that Panera has rolled out to increase customer engagement as the chain inches closer to going public.
The Crunch Time Ordering feature will help Panera encourage repeat visits, and could deepen the loyalty of the company’s roughly 48 million rewards members. Last year, the chain updated its loyalty program to provide choices for rewards instead of pre-selected items. Ensuring repeat visits will be instrumental in helping the chain continue to grow sales, especially as it tests a smaller menu without flatbread pizzas and a number hot items.
To promote the new ordering feature, Panera is tying the launch to a different kind of swiping: the motion done on dating apps during "cuffing season," a slang term for the colder months during which being in a relationship is advantageous. Consumers can visit PaneraCrunchTime.com for a chance to win a $100 gift card — about the value of an online dating service subscription for three months, according to the brand — and $50 toward a #PaneraDate with a partner.
Panera’s Crunch Time Ordering is similar to Domino’s Apple CarPlay integration, which launched in April. Domino’s customers can order a saved or recent order using Tap to Order, but Domino’s doesn’t send reminders for a scheduled time like Panera’s feature. Chipotle also has Amazon Alexa ordering capabilities.
Much of Panera’s recent tech innovation is geared toward ease of use for customer ordering and meal collection. Earlier this year, Panera added Amazon Alexa ordering capabilities for its rewards members, which allows customers to order pickup or delivery via voice or touch. The company also initiated a test of Amazon One palm scanners in the spring.
In May, the chain added drive-thru pickup to its stores nationwide. Guests ordering through the Panera app or website can then pick up their orders at the drive-thru. Last year, Panera added a dine-in mobile order feature allowing guests to order from their table using the app, as well.