Client Story

Pret A Manger

Accelerating a new digital customer experience in a disrupted market

Since opening their first shop in 1986, hospitality retailer Pret A Manger has been on a mission to serve freshly made food and organic coffee. Over the past 30 years Pret’s growth has accelerated, quickly becoming a staple high-street retailer. Today, Pret is an internationally recognised brand with more than 550 shops around the world.

Pret has embarked on a long-term digital transformation to better serve its customers and grow its market share. To help Pret in this endeavour, we brought a team with a diverse range of capabilities, including deep digital and e-commerce expertise, rapid prototyping and our track record in helping businesses bring their innovations to market at speed.

The joint team oversaw a complete digital transformation, including collaborating on the design and iterative launch of their new digital customer experience and underpinning platforms to support Pret’s digital initiatives and innovations. As part of this, we supported Pret in the delivery of its award-winning and revolutionary Pret Coffee Subscription service. Pret Coffee Subscription lets customers enjoy up to five Barista-made drinks per day for a monthly fee, creating great value for money for customers.

Our collaboration began amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, which was a pivotal time for Pret to adapt how to serve its customers and bring to life its digital ambitions.

Accelerating Pret A Manger’s digital transformation

Key successes

  • Applied consumer, innovation and digital expertise to enable Pret to rapidly adapt to a disrupted market.
  • Designed, built and launched Pret’s first loyalty programme ‘Pret Perks’
  • Supported the development of a new customer data platform to deliver improved customer insights and enable personalised customer experiences
  • Collaborated in the development and delivery of Pret’s revolutionary Coffee Subscription offer to over 400 stores

Accelerating digital transformation

Pret is one of the UK’s best-known brands, with over 400 shops in towns, cities and transport hubs across the country. It has a growing international presence, including the US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong and the Middle East. For the brand’s millions of loyal customers, Pret is the go-to place for freshly made food and organic coffee, and a part of their daily routine.

Although Pret had experimented with digitising its customer experience, they knew there was so much more that could be done. They had come up with innovative new ways to scale and digitally transform their propositions and called on us to begin executing the transformation.

Combining digital and consumer expertise

Once we started working with PA, we never looked back. We value their accountability – they commit to delivering. We were also impressed by PA’s ability to work as part of a blended team, successfully bringing their diverse skills and expertise to complement those of Pret. They do this in a way that is not overpowering or excluding.”
Global Head of Digital Product at Pret A Manger

Delivering a digital transformation required end-to-end digital capabilities. The team we assembled spanned design, development and delivery and tapped into our unparalleled experience of working with the world’s top brands on consumer insight and product development. To complement Pret’s long-standing digital innovation plans, our team came armed with a proven ability to enable companies to accelerate innovation and thrive in a fast-changing world.

Designing Pret’s future customer experience

A key challenge was to design the customer experience as Pret went online. How would it feel for customers ordering delivery or takeaway via Pret’s website? And how would employees and delivery partners be involved in delivering that experience? How would the digital and physical experiences interact in shop?

There was a huge amount at stake here. The Pret brand is both highly recognisable and exceptionally valuable. PA were brilliant at understanding how to take the brand online, with a customer experience that builds on this value and maintains Pret’s distinctive personality in the market that millions of customers expect.”
Chief Digital Officer at Pret A Manger

Together with Pret, we explored opportunities to deliver an experience that conveyed the ‘Joy of Pret’ as well as ways to resolve existing pain points. Then, incorporating industry best practice, we mapped out the target experience, tracking the customer journey from order to fulfilment.

In collaboration with Pret teams, the vision was refined, and was built on the understanding that exceptional teamwork and communication now, helps secure buy-in for future plans. Once the vision was set, the team mapped out the tools, skills and digital capabilities needed to bring the vision to life and set out priorities for developing these with a clear road map.

Launching a new subscription service

With these foundations in place, we supported Pret to launch its new Coffee Subscription service, the first ever on the high street.

The blended team leveraged a range of platform-as-a-service offerings from Google Cloud platform to rapidly launch a pilot to test the offering and understand customer behaviour. Our digital and consumer experts then collaborated with Pret to roll out the service to 370 UK stores in a matter of weeks. In preparation for launch, we project-managed the roll-out of new hardware scanners to Pret’s UK stores. These are contactless devices that read the unique QR codes on subscribers’ phones. We also delivered virtual training for 2,000 Pret staff, ensuring they understood the processes for selling through the subscription service, reinforcing the Pret brand.

By the end of 2020, our team took new responsibilities in product management, design and development for the proposition, adopting an agile, iterative approach to speed up development. We were able to launch features in quick succession to drive customer acquisition and retention.

Some nine months later, we were able to roll out coffee subscription in the US and France, led by our team working together with the local markets.

Engaging customers through Pret’s first Loyalty programme

Pret wanted more ways to engage and reward their customers by giving them treats tailored to their preferences, and Pret’s first loyalty programme, Pret Perks, does just that. Our team worked with Pret to design and build a loyalty journey that integrated seamlessly into customers physical and digital experience with Pret. By combining off-the-shelf capabilities, our team were able to rapidly develop the experience to be accessible through web, iOS app and android app, as well as underpinned by their new data platform. Our data scientist experts worked in partnership with Pret to unlock valuable insight on customer behaviour. Pret’s loyalty scheme enables Pret to offer increasingly personalised experiences and promotions over time.

Shaping a rich customer data platform

During the pandemic, when in-person interaction was limited, Pret wanted to use customer insight to drive innovation through the entire value chain. Pret sought to create a rich, consistent customer data platform that would enable a more personalised customer experience and represents huge opportunities for intelligence-driven decision making through advanced analytics and machine learning.

However, Pret did not have one single platform to house and combine this data. Our data experts brought together data from a wide range of sources, including Pret’s transactional platform and in-store wi-fi data, to build on a new, robust and scalable platform, leveraging Microsoft Azure technology.

Pret, with our guidance, then completed in-depth vendor, capability and financial analysis to select a complementary technology. This comprehensive process would help the technology scale with Pret’s growth ambition, whilst keeping this confidential data secure and compliant with GDPR standards. Our analytics experts overlaid this new technology stack with analytics tools. These tools will help Pret understand who its customers are and what and how they like to buy, creating the basis for personalised offers such as discounts and loyalty rewards.

Opening for take-away and delivery – at pace

PA worked with us to realise value for the business and for its customers at great pace. PA understood the urgency of helping transform Pret digitally and helped to bring forward new ideas and innovative suggestions wherever we asked for their support.”
Global Head of Digital Product at Pret A Manger

As Pret prepared to launch online ordering for takeaway and delivery, our team supported the implementation of a technology solution. It was crucial that Pret took advantage of the platform business models offered by delivery partners such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. By optimising an off-the-shelf solution (rather than developing from scratch), our experts helped accelerate delivery. As a result, Pret was able to launch the new service 12 months sooner than anticipated.

Creating a step change in back of house and central business operations to enable the digital propositions and drive efficiency

Pret A Manger faced a perfect storm of legal and regulatory change, business trading shocks and recruitment challenges driven by the pandemic. This meant Pret had to re-think and transform the way they managed their ingredient and product data, handled new online ordering channels and how their shop design needed to adapt to accommodate the new customer and colleague experiences.

We worked with Pret to implement an industry standard recipe management system, integrated with a legacy technology stack. We worked with end users to develop bespoke features needed to support the core business processes to achieve compliance and safely launch new products to customers. This was delivered by building a portal to manage all product and merchandising data in an intuitive and seamless way. To merge the physical and digital worlds we rolled out new hardware and operational systems to enable multiple digital propositions in stores. Underpinning all this change, we helped Pret re-design the central and store operation processes as well as provide the change management required to ensure successful adoption.

Delivering longer-term digital transformation

With our guidance, Pret was able to respond rapidly to the challenges of a hugely disrupted market. As a long-term strategic partner, we have supported Pret in rapidly innovating across their physical and digital customer experiences and expanding new propositions internationally. Together, Pret and our team have developed and launched digital experiences in a transformed retail landscape.

Together, we have put digital at the core of Pret’s business. Using consumer insight we have designed and delivered new digital experiences, so that Pret continues to thrive however customers’ lifestyles and working patterns evolve.”
PA digital expert
PA have proved an outstanding partner over the past couple of years. They’ve brought best practice in digital design and delivery and great understanding of our customer environment, to help accelerate Pret’s transformation, and the results have been exceptional. Together we have built new value for our customers and driven the global roll out of our digital business.”
Chief Digital Officer at Pret A Manger

Explore more

Contact the team

We look forward to hearing from you.

Get actionable insight straight to your inbox via our monthly newsletter.