An indication is posted on the outside of a Panera Bread restaurant on November 09, 2021 in Novato, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Panera Bread is piloting Amazon’s palm-scanning technology in St. Louis to supply prospects a quicker manner to hook up with their loyalty program and pay.

The bakery-cafe chain, which has lengthy been thought-about a frontrunner in restaurant technology, is the newest restaurant to make use of what the tech big has dubbed Amazon One. It’s already been carried out in dozens of Amazon-owned Whole Foods areas, Amazon Go shops and a few stadiums and arenas.

Panera has greater than 2,000 areas and its loyalty program has greater than 52 million members, representing a giant enlargement alternative for Amazon One. A consultant for Amazon declined to share knowledge on present signups for the palm-based fee system.

For now, Panera’s beginning small, with simply two company-owned eating places in its hometown of St. Louis.

“We think the payment plus loyalty identification is the secret sauce that can unlock a really personalized, warm and efficient experience for our guests in our cafes,” Panera Chief Digital Officer George Hanson instructed CNBC.

Panera is trying to increase the take a look at to 10 to twenty extra eating places over the following few months, together with some operated by franchisees, in line with Hanson.

The palm scanners are situated close to the restaurant’s registers. To use them, prospects have to hyperlink their loyalty program accounts to Amazon One, which they will do at residence or contained in the restaurant. They’ll additionally have to allow loyalty identification and fee for his or her accounts.

Privacy considerations

Amazon has confronted some backlash from customers and privateness consultants for its use of biometrics, which use organic measurements to establish somebody. An Amazon Go buyer filed a lawsuit Thursday in New York, alleging the retailer broke town’s legislation that requires it to put up indicators informing prospects that it is utilizing facial recognition.

Security consultants have warned that even palm scans is usually a danger as a result of that knowledge is saved within the cloud. Last March, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado dropped Amazon One from the venue after privateness teams pushed it to rethink.

But Hanson stated Panera selected Amazon’s technology for 3 causes: it is contactless, prospects should decide in, and an individual cannot be recognized by their palm alone.

“All of those things are the reasons why we think this particular technology solution is safe, secure and very guest centric,” he stated.

For its half, Amazon says that palm photographs are encrypted and despatched to a safe, “custom-built area in the cloud” the place the corporate creates a singular palm signature.

This marks Amazon’s second tech collaboration with a big restaurant firm. Starting in late 2021, it began opening pickup cafes with Starbucks utilizing its Amazon Go cashierless technology. Like Panera, the espresso chain has been on the lookout for new methods for purchasers to select up their meals and drinks shortly and conveniently.

Panera’s tech investments and fashionable loyalty program might make it extra enticing to buyers. The restaurant firm is at the moment privately owned by JAB Holding, the funding arm of the Reimann household.

Last 12 months, JAB tried to take the chain public once more by way of a cope with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s particular goal acquisition firm and an preliminary public providing, but it surely fell by way of as a result of rocky market situations.

However, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this 12 months that Panera is as soon as once more eyeing an IPO, so long as buyers have an urge for food for one.


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