Panera is a fast-casual restaurant operating over 2,000 locations across North America. In 2012, they introduced Panera 2.0, an innovative digital ordering platform enabling customers new ways to order and customize from digital devices. As the platform rolled out across stores, adoption was slow. When kiosks were introduced, a campaign was needed to change existing customer behaviors. But it did reduce line waits and improve order accuracy. At the same time, Panera was evolving its design aesthetic in the Bakery-Cafes. We were asked to improve the customer experience by focusing on the menus, POP and signage that greeted customers as they came inside.
We spent time in Panera Bakery-Cafes studying customers ordering experience behavior. We observed various layouts and in different locations to observe different populations. We then documented the customer journey across dine-in and rapid pickup (carryout). This was helpful as we analyzed opportunities for improvement and reducing friction and order anxiety.
Design Prototyping & Testing
Working with Arnold Imaging we built 3-D models of two common Bakery-Cafe layouts. We had the existing conditions rendered, and new models where we could place new fixtures, menu boards, and experience it in a virtual environment. This approach was also effective in getting buy-in and approval from the C-suite which was spread between two corporate offices.
User Experience Design for Menu Boards
We sought solutions to reduce the complexity of the menu boards. Overall the entrance needed a signage diet. There was a lot to take in. Customers immediately stopped to take in the 10 panel menu boards. Often they would overlook the kiosks which offered the same information and reduced queing.
We discovered with existing Cafés we would need to optimize the menu boards, as removing them would be too costly and would require a cosmetic renovation. Our first solution was to divide the menu content by daypart. Existing Bakery-Cafes had space for 10 menu boards showing the entire menu all day behind the cashiers. However breakfast was only available until 10am. We found a pivoted system that we called "shutter boards" that allowed each board to be double-sided and hinge from the wall. This reduced options for the user. It also allowed us to use some of the extra real estate to create vignette boards as shown below to drive penny-profit for featured and seasonal items.
We recommended additional optimizations like using a darker background to reduce glare from the track lighting. Simplify or remove tiers (Premium, Signature, etc.) and show price after each item.
We developed various User Workflows to outline key functions across the 2.0 ordering functions and across the Customer Journey from entrance to food delivery.
We developed some simple wireframes to demonstrate different ways to organize content. We were also having to integrate FDA nutrition guidelines. This was a quick way to test and prototype various formats.
We then prototyped various layouts as shown above where we integrated photography; included a menu description; no description but a table to organize the size options.
Fixtures and Merchandising
In addition to consulting on Menu Redesign, I designed and prototyped new fixtures. A new bakery merchandising case was designed to replace the stacked tables. The existing solution was simple, but the product ended up looking haphazard by day's end. Panera was also wanting to add some of their CPG product (coffee) to the waiting area.
I also helped redesign the greeting stand. The new solution was more narrow and took up less space than the previous stand. It also integrated space for the hand-held Menus and Catering brochures.
Both items were prototyped, fabricated and tested. In the end, the greeting stand was adopted for newer Bakery-Cafe formats.
Panera removed the tiered pricing from its menus (Signature, Classic) and adopted our typography and layout recommendations. An improved hand-held menu was introduced. The shutterboard system rolled out to all existing and new Bakery-Cafes within a year. In general signage and POP was reduced to cut down on the visual clutter. Kiosks have been growing in popularity and adoption for the 2.0 order technology is increasing year after year.