During the coronavirus pandemic, Panera drastically shifted operations from enhancing its cleaning protocols to revamping its digital ordering in an effort to stay viable while continuing to serve customers in a safe way.
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During widespread lockdown orders, Panera cafes nationwide shifted to curbside pickup, drive-thru and delivery through the company's app and website.
However, in May the company moved to sharpen its edge against competitors by equipping cafes with geofencing technology.
If customers opt in to the service, the cafe will get an alert the moment they drive into the vicinity of a Panera location. Employees will then take the order safely to the individual's car. However, customers also have the option of placing the order outside the cafe themselves and having it delivered to their cars.
Panera also extended its Wi-Fi service beyond cafe doors for customers waiting in their cars.
While inside its shops, Panera guests are required to wear a mask in an effort to "ensure the safety of our associates and guests." Masks are required at all times, except when guests are seated and eating or drinking, according to Panera's website.
Likewise, all its employees are mandated to wear a mask during their shift. The company has deployed reusable masks for its workforce. However, Panera also has nonmedical-grade disposable masks for employees to give to guests who need them while supplies last, the company said.
However, if any customer does not have or want to wear a mask, the company will serve them through drive-thrus, curbside or delivery.
For contactless delivery, Panera drivers will leave meals at the customer's front door, desk or any other location requested. When the order arrives, the customer will be alerted through a text or phone call.
Panera plans to deploy plexiglass barriers for its drive-thru service to further protect employees and guests
Like its competitors, the company also stepped up the number of times it cleans and sanitizes its locations while also adding "additional cleanings with peroxide solution in high-touchpoint locations."
Panera has also added hand sanitizer stands in all of its bakery-cafes.
Furthermore, the company noted it is conducting health checks for employees before the start of each shift and implementing the use of thermometers.
To offer more flexibility for customers, the company noted it will be extending the expiration dates on all MyPanera rewards that customers earned, "so you’ll have more time to redeem at your convenience."
As the coronavirus progresses, the company caution that its "bakery-cafes will continue with strict safety measures while also offering best-in-class off-premise options as dining rooms reopen on a rolling basis,"