Panera is offering soups, sandwiches, and more at the swipe of a palm. The company is piloting Amazon One at two cafes in its home city of St. Louis. Following the initial test, it plans to expand the technology to up to 20 additional stores across St. Louis and Seattle over the next several months.
Amazon One uses computer vision technology to create a unique palm print for each user, which is matched with a credit card and a customer account. Panera will use the technology to offer a faster and more personalized experience for its loyalty reward members.
Guests who link their MyPanera account to Amazon One will receive meal recommendations from Panera associates based on their preferences and previous orders. After a quick swipe of the palm, employees will be able to greet guests by name, communicate their available rewards, reorder their favorite menu items, or take another order of their choice. When they’re done ordering, guests can swipe their palm a second time to pay.
First-time users can pre-enroll or sign up when placing an order. Those who already are enrolled in Amazon One can link their MyPanera account online or in-store. Panera won’t store personal palm data, and enrollment is voluntary. Guests will have the option to use the technology for loyalty linking, payment, or both.
Amazon has spent the past several years rolling the system out to its own retail locations, including Amazon Go convenience and grocery stores, Amazon Books, and dozens of Whole Foods stores. The system also has been implemented at stadiums and arenas. Last fall, a Big Chicken outlet in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena became the first fast-casual restaurant in the country to feature the technology. Now, Panera is the first national restaurant chain to integrate loyalty and payment into Amazon One.
“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.”
Introducing Amazon Go is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering the MyPanera loyalty program, which counts more than 52 million members. Last month the company added an annual membership option to its Unlimited Sip Club subscription service. It also expanded the program’s benefits to include free delivery on all digital orders for annual members.
Available to MyPanera members for $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year, the program offers one self-serve beverage every two hours during regular bakery-cafe hours. A quarter of Panera’s transactions now come through Unlimited Sip Club members, according to the company.
Panera also has rolled out new choice-based rewards for MyPanera members, offering a selection of rewards instead of a single pre-selected option. Last year it launched contactless dine-in on its app, which lets reward members skip the line, go straight to a table, and order from their phone.