Panera is one of the most successful bakery-cafes in the US.

Last 2017, it predicted that it would generate more than $1 billion thanks to its digital, mobile, web and kiosk sales. And that figure is estimated to double by 2019.

What’s the secret to its whopping success? Panera’s digital loyalty program has 28 million members and represents more than half of its customer base. Let’s take a closer look at how this loyalty program took the world by storm:

1. MyPanera members get the best of Panera

Panera’s loyalty program was designed to surprise and delight its regular customers. As such, it includes features that make repeat purchases faster and easier. Customers can save their favorite menu items, reorder past purchases and easily track their rewards on the Panera Bread app.

panera loyalty program - rewards and mypanera card

MyPanera also offers members cool recipes, cooking tips and personalized rewards like a free menu item to encourage them to stay on the website.

“MyPanera is a loyalty program done the Panera way. Our brand has always demonstrated value to be far more than price. So unlike the typical buy 10 get one free type loyalty programs, MyPanera is focused on fostering unique relationships with our customers through deeply understanding how each guest enjoys and interacts with Panera today, and new ways they might like to in the future,” said Bill Moreton, Panera Bread CEO and president in an interview with MarketWired.

2. Special Offers and Rewards

The more time customers frequent Panera’s website, the more personalized the rewards they receive. For example, MyPanera surprised select members who regularly ordered Mac & Cheese with a bacon mac for a limited time.

Panera also offered a 1-Day Soup Freebie to promote its delivery rollout.

panera loyalty program - freebie soup

MyPanera also offers users exclusive sneak peeks, bakery-café items, menu updates and experiential opportunities. They also love to give birthday freebies and give rewards based on what customers love.

3. Encourages Customers Through Healthy Options

It’s no secret that most of the popular fast food chains offer nutritional nightmares—processed foods, high-calories hamburgers and fries, plus sugary sodas. But Panera is changing the game and proving that healthy eating sells. They offer fresh Mediterranean veggie sandwiches, modern Greek salads, black bean soup and other healthy items with fresh ingredients.

panera loyalty program - healthier options

“For too long, food chains in the United States have served our children poorly, offering menu items like pizza, nuggets, fries accompanied by cheap toys and sugar-laced drinks.” Panera Bread CEO Shaich explained in a video on Panera’s Twitter feed. “At Panera, we have a new approach to kids’ food. We now offer children almost 250 clean combinations.”

4. Omnichannel Strategy Make Ordering Fast and Easy

Panera’s loyalty program integrates with Panera delivery, as well as order ahead and rapid pick-up.

Panera has a Rapid Pick-Up program or what others call mobile order and pay, which accounts for 9 percent of its sales. Once you’ve placed and paid for your order, you can stop by their store and get your order from the Rapid Pick-Up Shelf. There’s no need to register or talk to staff. You simply pick up the page labeled with the name on your MyPanera account or credit card used to place the order.

panera loyalty program - mypanera offers rapid pick-up for digital orders

MyPanera members in St. Louis and Silicon Valley can also place orders via Google Assistant. When customers say, “Ok Google, ask Panera for delivery” or “Ok Google, talk to Panera.”  the Google Assistant can show the menu, suggest past menu items based on order history and allow the user to learn the menu  items.

The Secret to Panera’s Loyalty Program Success:

Here’s what we’ve learned from Panera’s loyalty strategy:

  1. Make repeat purchases easier for regular customers.
  2. Give customers personalized rewards, exclusive sneak peeks, freebies and experiential opportunities.
  3. Encourage customers through healthy options.
  4. Make it fast and easy for customers to get their order
Monique Danao

Posted by Monique Danao

Monique Danao is a writer and content creator with an expertise in marketing and SEO. When she's not writing, you'll find her enjoying funky food, listening to music and marketing startups.