Drive-thru customers at select Panera Bread stores in New York will be able to get their orders taken by way of artificial intelligence this month, making it the most recent restaurant to take stock in future investment opportunities that potentially enhance its overall drive-thru experience.
In order to add artificial intelligence enhancements, Panera Bread is making use of OpenCity's voice-ordering technology known as "Tori." This company has collected $6.82 million from private investors, which has caused the company to come to a total market valuation of $26.82 million. The sole purpose of the implementation of this artificial intelligence technology is to offer optimum drive-thru service.
"Panera is consistently looking for ways to innovate and elevate the guest experience - when we learned of this technology, it was an easy choice to test and learn to evaluate potential benefits," Raj Anbalagan, senior vice president of digital and technology innovation at Panera Bread, told Nation's Restaurant News. "Ultimately, our goal is to cut down on wait times, improve order accuracy and allow associates to focus on freshly preparing guest orders."
Panera still provides the option of making orders in a "typical" fashion, in spite of the recent addition of this type of technology to its system. Panera workers will also be on stand-by to help consumers out with their orders if they happen to be experiencing any problems.
In addition to this feature, Panera has also recently employed a wide range of others, like Contactless Dine-In, Curbside, Rapid Pick-Up, and Delivery so that consumers are able to order their favorite Panera menu items in a variety of ways. The way that the current artificial intelligence system via drive thru works is that at Panera Bread, consumers will go up to the drive-thru speaker. From there, the Tori speakers will engage with the customers, and Panera workers will be readily available to accept payment for orders if needed.
"Tori streamlines the workday for our associates so they can focus on other tasks to elevate the guest experience and make their bakery-cafe run smoothly," Anbalagan said. "[...] This test is not meant to be an answer to the labor challenges facing the industry but rather it's an innovation that makes every Panera experience efficient, delicious and something that makes our guest come back for more."