- Diners can now order Panera for delivery through DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats in addition to placing delivery orders via the restaurant's mobile app and website, according to a company release. Only lunch and dinner will be available for delivery orders through the third-party platforms.
- Panera's fleet of delivery drivers will still transport customer orders in most markets, in a system it dubs the "bring your own courier model."
- The restaurant has accrued more than 28 million delivery orders year to date, and delivery now represents 7% of its overall sales.
Panera is a delivery pioneer, and this off-premise expansion will give the fast casual giant access to new customers and a first mover advantage in a new hybrid delivery model.
Chief Growth and Strategy Officer Dan Wegiel told Restaurant Dive that the chain first dipped its toe in delivery through tests with third-party platforms in 2014. At that time, Panera was confident it could reach its footprint faster and drive larger volumes than third parties could, and that sticking to their own end-to-end solution made sense economically. But now that these platforms have grown dramatically — covering more than 89% of the U.S. — these partnerships offer complementary opportunities, Wegiel said.
"Their customers skew more residential and evening and we skew more mid-day and office ... We're trying to continue meeting the demand that's out there with more and more points of access," he said.
The strategy also protects Panera from quality concerns, an issue that many restaurants struggle with when outsourcing their delivery drivers. By keeping couriers in-house, Panera can better ensure that their standards for food presentation and delivery times are met, Wegiel said. That level of control, as well as the opportunity to access new customer bases, is attractive in today's cut-throat restaurant space. Pizza Hut, for example, rolled out a pilot of a similar delivery programs in February through a partnership with Grubhub. CHD Expert estimated that the direct delivery restaurant model generated $32 billion in sales last year.
Breakfast delivery will still only be available for delivery through Panera's mobile app and website, however. Panera added delivery for the morning daypart, which has since grown by 250% and is available in over 600 cafes.
If the company does eventually include breakfast through DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats, it could be an opportunity for Panera to get a leg up on rivals like Dunkin', McDonald's and Starbucks. Breakfast is the only meal that has seen year-over-year growth in the restaurant segment, according to the NPD Group. QSRs continue to dominate the daypart, with diners averaging 3.9 breakfast visits per month to this category. Comparatively, diners visit coffee shops for breakfast 2.5 times a month and fast casuals like Panera 1.3 times, Technomic found.
The restaurant is also focused on beefing up its dinner offerings, which drives 25% to 33% of company sales. Panera began testing an expanded menu, including flatbread pizzas, meaty sandwiches and bowls in Jacksonville, Florida and Lexington, Kentucky earlier this summer.
Wegiel said that menu items offered for delivery will be priced the same on Panera's platforms and its third-party partner platforms.