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Corner Bakery sees promise in Google-based ordering

The new channel is generating incremental sales for the bakery-cafe chain.
Corner Bakery
Photograph courtesy of Corner Bakery

Corner Bakery CMO Donna Josephson and some friends were recently trying to decide what to have delivered for lunch. Their first stop? Google.com. 

“They didn’t go directly to DoorDash, they didn’t go directly to a brand, they Googled first,” she said. “That’s obviously what consumers are doing.”

The observation reinforced her confidence in Corner Bakery’s recent decision to add the search engine as an ordering channel. In practice, ordering pickup or delivery from the Dallas-based bakery-cafe chain is now as simple as Googling it. A search pulls up nearby locations accompanied by a prominent “Order” button. The user can click, select their items and pay, all without leaving Google. The service is also available through Google Maps and Google Voice. “From a guest perspective, it’s just a really simple and cost-effective way to streamline the ordering process,” Josephson said.

The chain added the function in mid-October via digital ordering company Olo. Orders through the channel have increased every week since and have been incremental, part of an overall increase in digital sales for the chain, said Chris Roberson, VP of IT. 

On top of being easier for the customer, Google ordering benefits Corner Bakery in a couple of ways. First, orders are more cost-effective than those that come through a third-party marketplace. Olo does take a cut, but it’s “nowhere near what we pay a third-party delivery partner,” Josephson said.

Corner Bakery also captures all the customer data that flows through the channel.

“Because the customer is routed through Olo, it’s our customer, so we have that customer data, which is important, and we’re able to engage that customer directly,” Roberson said. 

The chain is one of many now accepting orders via Google. Panera Bread and Burger King added the channel recently, and McDonald’s, Subway and Wendy’s also offer it. 

Corner Bakery is still parsing out what type of customer is using Google compared to other ordering methods. But over the summer, Marty Hahnfeld, chief customer officer for Olo, said the platform is more likely to attract first-time digital guests. 

Those customers “don’t have experience ordering from that brand, nor do they have a lot of preference to order from a third-party first. ... They’re seeing an ‘Order now’ button and they’re hitting it,” he said during the Food On Demand conference in August, noting that the number of Google orders had increased by 15x compared to pre-pandemic.

All of Corner Bakery’s nearly 200 locations now offer Google ordering. And both Josephson and and Roberson are bullish on the new channel. 

“I definitely think reducing friction for the consumer is the key, getting in front of the consumer as fast as you can,” Roberson said. “And being able to be right there in Google search before the customer has a chance to navigate away is a great opportunity.”

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