The RB/FSTEC awards: digital all-stars
Tech accelerator, limited service
Winner: Panera Bread
An innovator out of the gate—it was one of the first chains to offer in-store WiFi—its ambitious undertaking with Panera 2.0 set the technological tone for the bakery-cafe segment. As it continues to roll out related initiatives as well as learn and adapt based on customer interaction, it’s reflective of a broad strategy to modernize everything from its online presence to apps to how food is delivered tableside. It’s no surprise, given that much of the leadership at Panera hails from tech-centric companies.
Honorable mention: CKE
The operator of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. has a history of technological innovation (it was one of the first to put an ATM in its stores). It also has made strides in digital signage, back-office systems, ordering apps and POS systems. The latest advancement: Teaming up with tech suppliers for its in-store ordering kiosk, continuing to prove that it’s not afraid to make the investment to try something different.
Honorable mention: Domino’s
Pizza powerhouses continue to push boundaries, yet Domino’s stands out. It was among the first to really drive online and mobile ordering, and now it has pushed ordering to a number of new platforms—including Ford cars, video games and smart TVs—and new formats, including its DOM voice ordering and emoji ordering.
Who will win?
The Tech Accelerator of the Year will be named at the FSTEC event, Sept. 27–29. For more information and to see these finalists’ videos, go to fstec.com.
Social media marketer of the year (large and small chains)
Best single social media post
Most surprising use of social media
Social media: most tantalizing food porn
Best social media event
Tech accelerator, full service
Tech accelerator, nontraditional