Panera Card vs. Starbuck’s App

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Have you ever attempted to compare your experience with the Starbucks App to your experience with the Panera card?

When you use the Starbucks App, you know exactly what the rules of the game are. You understand what the reward mechanism is. It is a simple user-friendly interface where you get rewarded each and every time you buy. All in all, it’s a pleasant experience.

Moreover, interestingly enough, when you use the Starbucks App, nobody ever asks you whether you would like to use the Starbucks App because the Starbucks App is in and of itself self-servicing. In other words, you pay with it.

Of course, you are going to be using the Starbucks App, because you go to Starbucks and it’s the right way to do it.

Now, contrast that with Panera. At Panera, you have no clue as to what the rules are. You don’t necessarily get rewarded at any particular time. And moreover, you have no idea when you are going to be getting a reward. Worse, when you do get rewarded, you often get rewarded for things that have nothing to do with what you buy. I remember, just recently, getting rewarded by being given a free cup of iced coffee. The only problem, however, is that I never order iced coffee at Panera and I never will. I order any number of things, but not iced coffee.

And, with that aside, there is never a time in which I am not asked whether I have a Panera card. That is true even if I am holding the Panera card in front of the cashier at which point he or she asks me if I have a Panera card, as I am holding it. In other words: an irrelevant award on a sporadic interval by a non-attentive cashier. The simple truth is that Panera has to ask because the Panera card is virtually worthless.

What I am clueless about is how it is possible for Panera to have such a remarkably dufus system of rewards with an antiquated card that has no intrinsic intelligence when Starbucks has clearly benchmarked how to efficiently and effectively use a rewards system with a state-of-the-art App. Moreover, for a company which has spent so much money and is so far-sighted in morphing its food line to healthy alternatives, why don’t they simply develop an App. They know what it is supposed to look like, for heaven’s sake.

In any event, as I walked away last night from the typical once every week or two experience with Panera, I thought it was only appropriate to register my observations – some might even call it “venting” –  about corporate short-sightedness, this time a/k/a Panera.