With delivery reportedly accounting for 7 percent of Panera Bread’s sales—handled in-house by its own drivers—the fast-casual, soup-and-sandwich chain announced it’s expanding its delivery program to include DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats. Panera’s own employees will still be responsible for handling the deliveries that come through the third-party channel. Roping in the loyal customer networks of the major third-party delivery providers is yet another unique delivery strategy from a mega-restaurant brand.
A leader in delivery, Panera already has a huge number of its customers enrolled in its loyalty program. After three years of strictly self delivery, the company will still allow customers to place their orders through its app and website. Year to date, Panera’s platforms have driven more than 28 million delivery orders.
Dan Wegiel, Panera’s EVP chief growth and strategy officer, said the company is a pioneer with its new “bring your own courier” delivery mode. “The most important consideration for Panera is owning the guest experience—and making sure it’s a great one,” he said. “These new partnerships are possible because we already have a fleet of delivery drivers and the infrastructure created to support increased demand.”
Wegiel added, “These partnerships capitalize on the delivery base we built over the last few years and use an economic model that works for us.”
We’d love to have been a fly on the wall for these negotiations, especially the parts of the conversations that included what fee Panera is paying its new delivery providers for access to their customer lists.
Panera is now working to connect its MyPanera loyalty program to delivery orders placed through the delivery partner sites. In the coming months, customers signed up for the MyPanera program will be able to earn loyalty credits when ordering through DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats.
Like other big-name restaurant-delivery partnerships, part of the deal includes a commitment for “robust marketing efforts” throughout the end of the year to juice interest and awareness, which could bring significant numbers of new users into the third-party delivery ecosystem. Pizza Hut has a similar arrangement with Grubhub, as the chain’s own drivers still handle the actual deliveries.