Amid Pandemic, Panera Pivots from Cafe to Grocery Supply

Panera Pivots from Cafe to Grocery Supply
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The strength and determination of our customers, our partners, and our people to rise up and overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of inspirational for us here at TIBCO. We’ve all had to make swift decisions in order to meet new business demands, and Panera Bread is one such company that has made notable strides in adapting to meet the needs of its customers. 

When the pandemic arrived, everybody’s way of life was quickly altered to stymie the spread of the virus, and that included closing down restaurants in countries across the world. Panera Bread, a chain of bakery-cafes with more than 2,300 locations across the United States, reacted swiftly to the disruption, both to ensure the survival of its business as well as to continue to provide much-needed fresh food and produce to its customers. 

Panera’s agility allowed it to pivot strategies and focus on a new issue facing its customers, as well as the larger company: the challenge of obtaining basic groceries without visiting a grocery store, while also repurposing Panera’s use of its main supply chain. CEO Nirin Chaudhary launched a plan to reconfigure Panera’s business operations to sell the goods normally used to create their signature soups, salads, and sandwiches. It took Chaudhary and his team less than two days to make a decision, and in less than two weeks Panera Grocery was born

A Quick, Seamless Transformation Made Possible by TIBCO

The transformation was possible thanks to the enterprise infrastructure and systems Panera already had in place that allowed it to intelligently use its data as a foundation for innovation. Solutions from TIBCO allow the business to unify its systems with a master set of data, efficiently update related systems in real-time, and enable the automation of many of its processes—some of which can be executed in minutes, compared to several days with previous methods. Thanks to a number of key decisions made prior to the onset of the pandemic, including having a solid and flexible master data management foundation that supports quick updates and new product additions, it was a relatively seamless shift to update applications to reflect the necessary changes. 

The addition of the new grocery line and corresponding products and services, as well as making updates to new cafe operating hours and temporary closures to Panera’s more than 2,300 locations, was able to be completed within a matter of minutes. E-commerce options, including updated hours, rolling out the grocery line, and home delivery through third-party providers like Uber Eats, GrubHub, and DoorDash are all controlled via the data management platform powered by TIBCO. 

Those third-party services have been growing in popularity in recent years, but the onset of the pandemic has made them critical to the success of many restaurants in the past few months. Panera had already been reaping the benefits of the delivery app sales channel because it had previously integrated its apps and systems with those of the third-party platforms. Delivery has been its top growth driver for the past several years, and with their strong technology foundation in place, can further strengthen as a key sales channel during these trying times.

Panera’s transition has thus far been a success. Groceries are making up an increasing percentage of total sales, and it will likely continue to grow as Panera adds additional food categories and meal kits to its offerings. Chaudhary believes Panera Grocery will provide a meaningful financial contribution sooner rather than later, and he intends on maintaining the business line even after the food shortage due to the pandemic has subsided. If you’re interested in learning more about how TIBCO powers Panera, check out the success story here. If this blog has left you feeling hungry, go place an order at Panera Grocery to experience the brand new service for yourself!