Panera Lets Loyalty Members Order Via Alexa

Panera Bread

Panera Bread has begun letting its loyalty membership customers order via Amazon’s Alexa.

“Ordering with Alexa provides convenience for MyPanera members and allows them to order their Panera favorites via voice or touch — without having to open the Panera app,” the fast-casual chain said in a news release Wednesday (March 28).

“With this new feature, MyPanera members can simply ask Alexa to order their favorite Panera items for pick-up or delivery, and the order will be completed.”

The voice assistant program, arriving at a time when restaurants are increasingly trying to drive loyalty, is open to any MyPanera member who has an Echo Show device and a stored payment method (and in the case of delivery orders, an address stored in a MyPanera account).

“Panera is the first to use our updated Alexa Food Skills API which incorporates state-of the-art techniques in conversational AI to make the ordering process through Alexa more intuitive,” said Mark Yoshitake, general manager and director of Alexa Skills.

“Now, customers can reorder their favorite meal, ask to add avocado and bacon to their sandwich, or track their delivery without having to pick up their phone, or open an app.”

This marks the second Amazon/Panera collaboration in the last week. On March 22, the fast casual brand announced it was using Amazon One’s pay-by-palm technology to identify loyalty members at the point of purchase.

This collaboration will let MyPanera customers pay for their purchase by scanning their palms, making Panera the first nationwide restaurant chain leveraging the capability.

Earlier this week, PYMNTS spoke with George Hanson, senior vice president and chief digital officer at Panera, who said the use of Amazon’s pay-by-palm capabilities fits into the company’s larger loyalty strategy.

“What we’re starting to do is bring these digital capabilities into the café and into what traditionally have been non-digital channels,” Hanson said. “The POS, for example, with Amazon One, and last year, we rolled out contactless dine-in, which really put the guests in control of their in-café dining experience using their own phones.”

PYMNTS also looked at the need for digitally-minded restaurants to engage with customers in a recent interview with Kate Green, vice president, restaurant services and innovation at Grubhub.

“We’ve seen a lot of trends toward what we call the ‘engagement phases’ of a diner lifecycle. So, it’s not just about acquiring that diner, but how you engage with them?” Green said. “Diners expect things like marketing and promotions and campaigns to both entice them to place an order and reward them for being a returning customer.”