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Panera pilots Amazon palm-scanning payment technology

A customer using Amazon One technology at a Panera Bread café. (Photo: Business Wire)

Panera Bread customers in select locations can pay for their orders by scanning their palm.

The fast-casual chain is piloting Amazon's palm-based identification solution, Amazon One at two stores in Panera’s headquarters city of St. Louis, with plans to expand to additional locations in the coming months.

Panera is the first national restaurant company to use Amazon One as both a way for customers to pay and gain access to their loyalty account with their palm. Customers who link their MyPanera loyalty account to Amazon One be able to make frictionless, palm-based payments, as well as receive tailored meal recommendations from Panera associates based on their preferences and previous orders.

After a scan of the palm, Panera associates will be able to greet participating customers by name, communicate their available rewards, reorder their favorite menu items, or take another order of their choice. When they are done ordering, customers can scan their palm again to pay.

First-time Amazon One users can pre-enroll online or sign up when placing their Panera order in the store. It takes a minute for a Panera customer to link their credit card and MyPanera account to their Amazon One ID.

If a customer has previously enrolled in Amazon One at Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, or other locations such as airports and stadiums, they will not need to re-enroll at Panera. Instead, they can link their MyPanera account to their Amazon One ID online or in-store.

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Enrollment in Amazon One is voluntary and includes opt-in consent, and customers can choose to use Amazon One for loyalty linking, payment, or both. Any private and personal data shared via Amazon One is securely stored and protected by multiple security controls, and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. All images are encrypted and sent to a secure area custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where palm signatures are created.

Panera invests in digital capabilities

For customers, Panera has intentionally taken technology beyond the point of purchase, from contactless-dine in options, to a digitized order status board, to reorder and recommendation functions in the app.

For associates, AI technology is used to auto reorder ingredients based on sales to labor scheduling and more. Panera continues to test AI technology across multiple areas of the bakery-cafe. In 2022, it began testing Miso Robotics’ automated coffee brewing system, as it rolled out its “Unlimited Sip Club” subscription program. Future iterations of the new urban format plan to test new tap-and-go technology for an even more seamless experience for Unlimited Sip Club members

More recently, Panera began testing OpenCity’s proprietary voice AI ordering technology, called “Tori,” for drive-thru orders, with the goal of maximizing efficiency and increasing speed of orders.

“Collaborating with Amazon Web Services to bring this service into our bakery-cafes is a natural extension of the tech-forward, customer-centric digital thinking that Panera is known for,” said Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera Bread and Panera Brands. “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 customers. Introducing Amazon One, as a frictionless, personalized, and convenient service, is another way we’re redefining the loyalty experience.”

“With one of the largest and most successful loyalty programs in the country, Panera wanted to make it even easier for its customers to access their rewards and have a more customized café experience,” said Dilip Kumar, VP, AWS Applications. “We’re proud to collaborate with Panera on the rollout of Amazon One and elevate the customer experience by providing a simple, fast, and effortless way to complete their order so they can spend more time enjoying their meal.”

As of February 28, 2023, there were 2,113 bakery-cafes, company and franchise, in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names. Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, one of the largest fast casual restaurant companies in the U.S., comprised of Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, and Einstein Bros. Bagels.

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