Pret A Manger's digital & business transformation
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5 biggest takeaways from Pret A Manger's digital & business transformation journey

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Diya Bag
March 2023

In 2019, Pret A Manger underwent a full digital transformation —  from having almost no digital footprint to fully embracing modern commerce to generate new revenue. Sarah Venning, Global Chief Digital Officer at Pret A Manger shared her key lessons from the journey during the recent webinar: Pret A Manger: Digital & Business Transformation for Growth. The webinar was moderated by Christoph Gerber, co-founder and CEO at Talon.One, a flexible headless promotion and loyalty engine. Having previously founded Lieferando, a leading online food delivery marketplace, Christoph was the perfect fit to talk about all things digital within the food & beverage industry.

Pret A Manger's digital & business transformation

When you think of Pret A Manger (Pret for short), you think of fabulous fresh food and organic coffee, not necessarily a digital-first company. And for almost 30 years, that was the status quo for the company. It had hit upon a very successful business model and didn't need to innovate. 

Historically and before the pandemic, digital wasn't a big part of Pret A Manger's business. But now digital is absolutely fundamental to us and it's a key enabler for our most important and disruptive propositions.
Sarah Venning

Global Chief Digital Officer at Pret A Manger

In 2019, the owners of Pret recognized that becoming more digitized could be a huge opportunity for the brand — luckily, several months before COVID-19 lockdowns. The company chose commercetools as its eCommerce partner because what commercetools could provide matched Pret’s strategic goals of quickly implementing more digital touchpoints. And once commercetools was chosen, Pret moved fast and built their core digital solution in only four months. 

Now, Pret offers an array of global digital propositions, including a wildly successful and award-winning Coffee Subscription program, "Pret Perks" loyalty scheme and click-and-collect service, plus operates on several marketplace delivery platforms. All of this has helped the company to diversify and drive revenues as it witnessed lower footfall to their shops due to COVID-19. Going through such a massively beneficial digital and business transformation resulted in many lessons learned along the way. Here, Sarah shares her top five:  

Lesson 1: Have a clear vision of where you want to get to 

If you know your destination, you can be incredibly flexible about how to get there. There'll always be things you didn't expect along the way, but as long as you know where you need to be, you can take any route to get there. Being that adaptable enables speed and flexibility. 

Lesson 2: Go fast

Do not over-perfect things before deployment, whether they will be a success or not, because that way you conserve your energy and your investment funds. So go fast, get stuff out there, kill the stuff that doesn't work and industrialize the stuff that's brilliant.

Lesson 3: Track performance obsessively

… but don't overwork your business case. It's more important to be directionally right than precisely wrong. At Pret, we've been more successful and certainly gone much faster when we've just really aimed for a good enough business case instead of spending excessive hours and perfecting things. After all, you never really know the answer when you're doing something new. 

Lesson 4: Use partners for speed 

Unless you're perfect and unless you are already confident that you're nine out of 10 on your journey, then there will be lots of partners that will have amazing experiences that you can benefit from. We have sucked so much out of our software partners and service providers and really pulled out their knowledge. We've structured our relationships with our partners to incentivize them to get us faster through our transformation journey. 

Lesson 5: Leapfrog your technology choices

If you're building something new, take the opportunity to move quickly past outdated technology to the most modern solutions you can find. You can often convince yourself that adapting what you already have from a legacy provider will get you there. But the problem is, if you end up with a real success on your hands, you're still anchored to your legacy platform. This makes the problem you had in the first place — that your legacy needed transforming — even more acute. So, I would say be bold and break free.

Watch the entire webinar to learn even more about Pret A Manger's digital transformation journey.

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Diya Bag
March 2023

Diya Bag is a Senior Content Writer at commercetools. Previously, she has worked as a Copywriter in advertising for a wide range of brands, as well as an Editorial Manager in publishing for magazines and both fiction and nonfiction books.

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