Panera expands small-order delivery

Panera Bread Co. this week brought small-scale delivery to its third market—demonstrating the company’s growing tech investment and its ongoing effort to boost opportunities for mobile engagement.

The Panera To You outpost, opened in Lexington, Ky., offers small-order delivery to customers within a 10-minute drive of downtown. Small-scale delivery service is also available in Louisville, Ky. and Charlotte, N.C.

Delivery is offered for a small fee on any order of $5 or more, Panera regional manager Katie Wilson told Orders may be placed remotely online or through Panera’s mobile app and in-store at the register or an iPad kiosk.

The Panera To Go offshoot is one component of the fast-casual company’s strategy to increase customer touchpoints through technology, dubbed Panera 2.0. On an earnings call last month, CEO Ron Shaich noted that the company’s push to upgrade its tech offerings and open delivery “hubs”—primarily for large-scale catering orders—would dampen the company’s short-term profit growth but would ultimately lead to gains down the road.

In addition, Panera has been quietly testing small-scale delivery during the past year. Spearheaded by an unnamed former pizza-chain executive, the chain’s delivery efforts have the “potential to maturely increase (Panera’s) sales volumes per cafe and become a long-term driver of sales,” Shaich told investors in April. 

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