Panini Internazionale has built its reputation as one of Stockholm’s most recognisable brands that serves healthy fast food that is prepared daily on-site. The company has set out on an ambitious transformation journey and assigned BBH Stockholm as a partner to future-proof their full operations from customer experience to business performance.
In close collaboration with Panini, we created an in-depth strategy to define how their future ecosystems need to look to create long-term value for both customers and the company. The core idea of the project was never about building a single client application – but rather transforming merchandising into the digital age.
BBH built and designed a smart suite of services that is powered by something that we call the ‘E-brain’ – a central data intelligence system that creates a personalised and seamless experience across the whole employee and customer journey. They can now tap into big data analysis for predicting patterns and serve the needs of the end-users without being restricted by the technology provided by a single platform – but at the same time accelerate the experience with that technology when possible. By tapping into big data analysis, Panini Internazionale can reach the end-users through their preferred touchpoints based on behavioural patterns and tailored insights. This allows them to understand exactly what each customer wants, and when they want it.
To the end-users, this is for instance manifested by the client app’s feature ‘Grab and Go’, that uses a little and common feature on almost every smartphone – the camera – to completely change the shopping experience in-store. With just a camera – and the interfaces and connections provided by E-brain – the need to stand in queues for information, look up allergens, help, recommendations, and payment is a thing of the past.
Furthermore, the E-brain constantly feeds the company with data insights on how to optimise operational efficiency in terms of crowd management, staff allocation, product development, marketing tactics and much more.
The Brand’s History
In the ’90s, four brothers — Alexandro, Christo, Pierre, and Ricard Constantinou – sold sandwiches and speciality food out of a hole-in-the-wall store in Stockholm. They imported halloumi, sun-dried tomatoes, air-dried ham and other items that at the time were new to most Swedes. Since then they have grown year-by-year by offering great-tasting and healthy food to conscious consumers with hectic lifestyles.
We believe one of their secrets to success is that they stand out from the competitors by always offering something new and innovative that stays true to their brand promise.
Building a deeper relationship with customers means that they face the challenge of meeting their customers’ current needs at any given time. As a customer, you understand who they are and what they stand for and they reward the company by keep coming back.
To meet the customer in the current need and thereby create a deeper relationship. It’s about building trust for a brand by optimising each instance, each interaction and every touchpoint that their customers are faced with.
We needed to hack time. Make choices easier. Simpler. As most transactions take place during breakfast and lunch time when people are running out of time and are generally stressed, the key to the project was to create a toolbox that gives the customer a frictionless and personalised experience. The key to creating deep relationships with consumers is directly linked to understanding how the outcome of experiences meet the individuals’ life-needs, rather than the actual service or product. Thus, it is extremely important to understand the type of value demanded - linked to the individual's life pattern.
We had a close collaboration with Panini's organisation from HQ / staff functions down to staff in daily operations to understand the challenges and opportunities. We did qualitative interviews with consumers that visited the premises every now and then, and with consumers that visited frequently. We talked with people that didn’t even know what Panini was, and we talked with people that weren’t very fond of them. All the insights that were collected were cross-matched with qualitative and behavioural research.
At this time, we realised that the employees are just as important. Spending less time behind the cash register would mean spending more time with the consumers which would lead to a better-quality service. We went from a customer-centric way of thinking to a human-centric way of thinking which means that we started thinking about everyone that would be affected by what we were about to create.
We understood that tailoring the service to individual customer needs would save time and that getting rid of steps in the consumer buying process would save even more time. We understood that the technical execution – in terms of both loading times and clicks to the goal – would be a vital part of the project. We understood that we needed to look holistically on Panini’s business, which included looking at how the business was run in order to optimise operational efficiency in terms of crowd management, staff allocation, product development, marketing tactics and more. The idea of the E-brain and gathering of data made all of this possible.
As the client application is designed as interfaces with the underlying digital brain, the E-brain, we can connect with customers through several channels, tap into big data analysis for predicting patterns and serve the needs of the end-users. As we don’t need to limit ourselves by the technology that is provided by a single platform we can broaden our horizons and better accommodate for different types of customer behaviour through different channels. We can then accelerate the experience in each unique user’s preferred channel and make the most of the technology whenever possible.
To the end-users, the client app’s feature ‘Grab and Go’ might be the outwardly more intense venture as it completely changes the shopping experience in-store, not least when it comes to personalised recommendations and payment. But this is only one way that an E-brain can enhance the merged experience of physical and digital merchandising.
The service layer offers a variety of other services to the end-user based on their preferences. If the customer prefers, he or she can pre-order food and pick it up at the store and pay through the app.
It’s a system that enables scalable development and which allows the company to add additional features in the future through other channels outside of the traditional bounds of the smartphone app. For example, to fully step into the ‘Amazon Go world’ with stores without staff or explore other opportunities such as ordering your food through voice user interfaces, rich notifications that pop up at your convenience, bots, apps-without-apps, voice technology and much more.
The project is heavily built upon tools originally designed and developed by BBH Stockholm. The technical foundation, methodologies and technical concept of the project are based on the BBH Essentials frameworks which set an above-industry-level of the technical core, to reduce technical debt, enhance flexibility and move the focus from recurring technical tasks to innovation and user experience for the end customers. The project also uses important technologies that allow simple verification (with the Swedish identification system BankID, that allows seamless identification and payment) to support one-click payment and quick payment card filling in with autocompletion. It’s fast and it’s safe.
All restaurants have a point of sales (POS) system but it’s nowadays referred to as the restaurant point of service, as they provide a platform that sits at the heart of any food and beverage operation and which helps to enhance the customer experience. The project uses Oracle POS integration which is connected to Panini’s custom-built loyalty system and which tracks direct order creation. For example, if the customer uses the grab-and-go payment method the Panini store automatically gets an order confirmation and tells the backend to register the loyalty points in the POS system.
The custom-built loyalty system is a part of the core domain application. We created a simple to use loyalty system which made it possible for the end-users to receive and use loyalty points by showing the QR code that you get with the purchase - no matter whether you paid through the app or by credit/debit card. Then you can pay directly with loyalty points through the phone by simply scanning your QR code. By making an advanced order system which has a lot of different and specific order steps Panini can easily modify an existing order through the CMS which is connected to the POS system and in the app for the end-users.
Big credits to Panini Internazionale for daring to invest in this advanced project even though they know it will affect their company on all levels. Unlike many brands that never manage to implement innovation concepts due to internal politics, short vision focus and silo structures Panini and BBH has worked as 'one' to take the company into the future.
The central data intelligence system and the smart suite of services are all connected to many areas of Panini’s business. It affects the daily operations, e-commerce, point of sales, the data-driven marketing, CRM and how they build loyalty amongst the customers. Panini can now optimise operational efficiency, change marketing tactics and adapt product development based on big data.
With a human-centered design approach, we can build the right ‘it’, rather than building ‘it’ right. Building the right ‘it’ includes making the suite of services dynamic and scalable as digital strategies quickly become old.
One of the challenges when developing the solution has been to combine the overwhelming smartness of the E-brain with older systems not designed for this age of digital intelligence. One such example is the integration towards the payment systems in stores, that often have technology-based decades back. To connect the physical payment to the digital user within E-brain, a number of key tech-innovations had to be applied in order to reach the fluent experience desired for the end-users.
Transformation projects requires dedication, patience and an agile strategy. We are still in what we consider the learning and expansion phase and are working towards clearly set KPI's. We are already identifying an increase in new orders and deeper relationships with customers. Yet, we are convinced that the great reward will come as the e-brain becomes smarter and more advanced. Continuity and constant improvements in the customer experience is key.