Panera Brings Amazon’s Palm Payments Into the Restaurant World

Panera palm scan payment

Panera Bread is leveraging Amazon One pay-by-palm capabilities to remove friction for loyalty members.

The fast-casual brand announced Wednesday (March 22) that it is rolling out the option, whereby consumers can pay for their purchase by scanning their palms, to members of its MyPanera rewards program, making the chain the first national restaurant to leverage the technology.

“Collaborating with Amazon Web Services to bring this service into our bakery-cafes is a natural extension of the tech-forward, guest-centric digital thinking that Panera is known for,” Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera Bread and Panera Brands, said in a statement. “Our philosophy has been centered around leveraging best-in-class technology to create a better Panera experience and using that to deepen our relationship with our loyal guests.”

Chaudhary added that this payment technology offers a “frictionless, personalized, and convenient” experience for loyalty members.

The palm scanners are available at two locations in the restaurant chain’s home city, St. Louis, Missouri, with more deployments to come in the months ahead. Through the system, once loyalty members scan their palms, store employees will have the ability to greet the customer by their name, to explain available deals, and to prompt guests with their preferred menu items, personalizing the in-person experience as brands are personalizing their digital platforms.

In an Amazon blog post Wednesday discussing the partnership, Dilip Kumar, vice president, AWS applications, said the technology can be key to driving loyalty adoption and usage for restaurants by making the process of earning and redeeming rewards more intuitive.

“The MyPanera integration with Amazon One addresses a major pain point for the restaurant and retail industries: customers sometimes choose to skip loyalty programs because they prefer to get in and out with their purchase, rather than deal with the sign-up and redemption processes,” Kumar said. “For new guests who choose to sign up for MyPanera using Amazon One, enrollment [and redemption] is easy.”

Driving rewards program usage for in-store customers is key, as these diners have historically lagged behind their digital counterparts in terms of loyalty adoption. Research from PYMNTS’ report, “The 2022 Restaurant Digital Divide: Restaurant Apps And Websites In The Spotlight,” which draws from a census-balanced survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. consumers, finds that 72% percent of those who prefer to use eateries’ direct ordering channels had used loyalty programs in the prior 30 days. In contrast, only 42% of those likely to eat in-restaurant said the same.

The move comes as part of a broader effort on Panera’s part to try out emerging payment capabilities in an effort to integrate purchasing as seamlessly into consumers’ daily routines as possible.

Back in September, the brand announced a partnership with Apple’s CarPlay, by which iPhone users who are members of Panera’s MyPanera loyalty program are able to order via the fast-casual brand’s app, and the brand’s Unlimited Sip Club subscription holders are able to redeem their beverages, through their car’s dashboard with CarPlay.

Overall, Panera Bread is a leader in digital ordering. PYMNTS’ Provider Ranking Mobile Order-Ahead Apps, which ranks restaurants’ smartphone apps using a proprietary combination of publicly available information plus app usage data to which we have access, places Panera’s app in the top 5, behind giants such as Starbucks and Domino’s but ahead of McDonald’s and Burger King.