- 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 more 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 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 its own end-to-end solution made sense economically. But now that these platforms have grown dramatically — covering more than 89% of the U.S. — the 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. Wegiel said that menu items offered for delivery will be priced the same on Panera's platforms and its third-party partner platforms.
The strategy also protects Panera from quality concerns, an issue many restaurants struggle with when outsourcing delivery drivers. By keeping couriers in-house, Panera can better ensure its 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 program in February through a partnership with Grubhub. CHD Expert estimated the direct delivery restaurant model generated $32 billion in sales last year.