OPERATIONS

Overstock.com shuffles executives

BY Dan Berthiaume

Salt Lake City — Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne has relinquished his role as chairman of the company. In other moves, co-president Stormy Simon was named president of the online discount retailer.

Byrne will continue to serve as CEO, while current executive vice chairman Jonathan Johnson assumes the chairman responsibilities Byrnes has held since 2006.

In connection with these changes, Mark Griffin, senior VP and general counsel, has been named as corporate secretary, a position Johnson previously held. David Nielsen will continue in his role of co-president and his responsibilities within the firm will also be enlarged.

Byrne’s latest term as chairman of Overstock.com’s board of directors began in April 2006. Simon was elected to the board in May 2011. Johnson was elected to the board and named executive vice chair in May 2013.

"For 12 years Stormy has been our secret weapon," said Byrne. "Her ideas and her leadership have been crucial to Overstock’s success. I have long maintained that simply as a matter of good institutional design, the roles of chairman and CEO should be split. For that reason my father held the position for years, as much as his health and other duties permitted. It has been back in my hands for some years, but for the completion of many of the duties of chairman I have come to rely more and more on Jonathan Johnson, another long-termer at the company who has made enormous contributions in the areas of finance, legal, and government affairs, and who has also had, at one time or another, nearly every piece of the company reporting to him.”

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OPERATIONS

Panera Bread unveils new ordering, payment technologies to improve customer experience

BY Dan Berthiaume

St. Louis – Panera Bread has unveiled a series of integrated technologies to enhance the customer experience at its restaurants. The new “Panera 2.0” initiative brings together new capabilities for digital ordering, payment, operations and consumption for patrons who choose to eat in as well as for those who order to go. In test for several years, the solution is now live in 14 of the chain’s locations and is slated to be deployed in nearly all locations over the next 36 months.

"Panera 2.0 is an integrated experience that meets the differentiated needs of ‘to go’ and ‘eat in’ customers, so they don’t bump into each other," said Blaine Hurst, Panera’s executive VP of technology & transformation. "Panera 2.0 provides new mechanisms for ordering, payment, food production, and, ultimately, consumption. We took a totally integrated approach, and believe what we are providing is a truly enhanced guest experience."

Key elements of the new program include an ordering option called Rapid Pick-Up that enables customers to place an online/mobile order from their office, car, work or home, up to five days in advance, and pick up their food at a pre-determined time without waiting in line. To facilitate easy pick up, restaurants will be equipped with a special "to go" pick-up area, featuring dedicated seating, an order-status monitor providing real-time information as orders are prepared and completed, and shelf space.

In other key features, eat-in customers can place an online/mobile order from anywhere within the restaurant and have the meal delivered directly to their table. The chain is also rolling out “fast lane” kiosks, equipped with iPads, for dine-in and to-go orders, with a goal of reducing wait time for guests.

Customers can save customizations, past orders and favorites at kiosks and through online or mobile app ordering, and link them to their MyPanera loyalty or credit card.

Panera’s new digital ordering processes are enabled by an online ordering web function on its website and a mobile app that will allow customers to store their purchase history and credit card information for future use.

Beyond technology, Panera has invested in new production equipment and systems, such as upgraded kitchen display system (KDS), auto-load balancing, and a new, centralized phone system. Moreover, to increase capacity and accuracy, Panera 2.0 cafes feature customer-facing order displays at checkout and an expeditor station, where an associate confirms and verifies every order before it is delivered to the customer. A comprehensive training program has been developed to help associates adopt and master the processes and systems that are part of the new initiative.

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P.Siegel says:
Apr-23-2014 01:26 pm

If there ever was a restaurant chain that needed a new ordering system - it's Panera. Presently, it's the worst system of all systems and undoubtedly cost them thousands- if not more - customers already, so perhaps they should look into EXPEDITING the new system, rather than taking 3years to implement.

P.Siegel says:
Apr-11-2014 12:45 pm

They can install all the technological advances in the universe - but to improve the "customer experience" which today can only be described as LOUSY - won't help. WHAT'S NEEDED IS BETTER TRAINED PERSONNEL! Turnover appears to be daily, weekly at best, which presently makes for a poor customer experience. THE HELP BEHIND THE COUNTER HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, and the next visit, it's all new help behind the counter and over and over and repeated experience aFTER REPEATED EXPERIENCE.

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OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart, Wild Oats team up on discount organic food

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart will carry Wild Oats organic food items later in April with a new, more affordable price point on products covering a broad variety of categories. Wal-Mart estimates customers will save 25% or more when comparing Wild Oats to national brand organic products.

Walmart and Wild Oats will introduce nearly 100 products as part of the line, with the goal of removing the price premium associated with organic groceries. Internal research found that 91% of Wal-Mart shoppers would consider purchasing products from an affordable organic brand at the retailer.

“We know our customers are interested in purchasing organic products and, traditionally, those customers have had to pay more,” said Jack Sinclair, executive VP of grocery at Walmart U.S. “We are changing that and creating a new price position for organic groceries that increases access. This is part of our ongoing effort to use our scale to deliver quality, affordable groceries to our customers.”

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