Have you noticed these changes at Panera?

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If there’s one thing we’re certain about, it’s that people love Panera bread. They also hate, hate, hate waiting line for their coffee, panini or bowl of broccoli cheddar soup.

That’s all changing now as Panera makes some strategic changes to improve the customer experience at its 2,000 locations across the country.

Here’s how bad things were at Panera at their worst: People had to wait in line for up to eight minutes just to place an order in 2010, company leaders told the Wall Street Journal. Then, 10 percent of the time their order came out wrong, even after they’d waited so patiently in Panera’s “mosh pit” area to place their order.

So Panera made some changes—hundreds of little ones, in fact. The company’s leaders spent hundreds of hours observing customers and staff to find out exactly what was causing the delays and the mistakes.

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Now, people can place their order at a self-order kiosk inside the store. Or, they can order and pay online or using the company’s mobile app, then then head to Panera when their food is ready. The rapid pickup option also allows you to order early and select the time you want your food to be ready for pickup.

The company also simplified the way its employees process orders to cut down on the number of errors they made. Panera now offers delivery at nearly a quarter of locations with plans to expand that option to 40 percent of stores by the end of this year.

Online and mobile orders now make up roughly 25 percent of the company’s orders.

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These changes have resulted in drastic improvements for customers—the average wait time for ordering food in line at Panera is now just one minute.

“It saves me from standing in line and taking half my lunch hour to get the food,” Catherine Rhinehart told the Wall Street Journal.

People are taking to social media to praise the company for its improvements, too.

This guy is glad he can skip the long lines and start eating while “others grow more impatient in line” thanks to the store’s self-order kiosks.

Another customer wrote on Twitter: “Panera app best app on my iPhone! No long lines.”

One person can’t understand why people “still wait in long lines to use cashiers to check out at Panera when there are always free kiosks?”


Looks like Panera has made many people very happy with these changes. Have you noticed them at your local Panera?

About the Author

Sarah Kuta

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning writer and editor based in Colorado. She writes regularly about how to find deals, save money and find side gigs. Reach her at sarah@dontwasteyourmoney.com. More.

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