As Starbucks searches for mobile ordering solutions, one chain has proven that there is a path for digital success.
Panera Bread has managed to cut its wait time to order food from eight minutes to one minute, thanks to the company’s efforts to boost mobile ordering, the Wall Street Journal reported. Today, online orders make up more than 25% of sales at the fast-casual chain’s company-owned stores.
However, fixing the chain’s mobile ordering system wasn’t an easy process.
“It’s about a systemic solve,” Blaine Hurst, Panera’s president, who was heavily involved in the development of Panera 2.0, told Business Insider earlier this year. “A lot of people say, let’s just do this, let’s just do that. I believe you have to look at the whole system — or it will break.”
To create a systematic solution, Hurst and Panera CEO Ron Shaich spent about 100 hours a week in a Massachusetts Panera locations, observing and pin pointing exactly what was causing bottlenecks.
Shaich told the Wall Street Journal that what they found was that there wasn’t one thing that needed to change, but instead “hundreds of little things” to adjust. Changes included everything from adding ordering kiosks in stores to simplifying kitchen display systems.
While Panera reported in April same-store sales increased 2.6% in the most recent quarter, thanks in part to digital sales growth, it took a while for the hundreds of tiny changes to pay off.
“I took three years of flat earnings and a lot of heat as we made these bets,” Shaich told the Journal.
That’s reassuring news for a chains like Starbucks, which is currently facing problems after betting big on mobile ordering. The coffee giant is testing solutions such as pick-up shelves and texting customers when their order is ready, after partially blaming a drop in traffic early in 2017 on bottlenecks caused by mobile orders.
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