Starbucks to roll out pre-ordering to cut down lines

Steven Loeb · October 17, 2014 · Short URL:

The feature will be introduced in Portland before going national next year

Of all national retail chains, Starbucks seems to always be the one most ready to use technology to improve the experience of its customers. Yet there has been one glaring omission: Starbucks has yet to implement an way to order-ahead via mobile. While this seems like a fairly obvious route for the company to go, for some reason Starbucks never got around to it.

So imagine my delight when I learned, in a report out from Bloomberg, that now Starbucks is about to do that very thing.

The company is set to roll out a mobile ordering feature in its mobile payments app in around 150 stores in the Portland area. Following that, the app will become available across the U.S. at some point next year.

Customers who use the feature will have to wait roughly five minutes to get their order, according to what Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at Starbucks, told Bloomberg. The idea, of course, is to cut down on lines, make sales take less time and get customers out the door quicker. If you've ever been in a Starbucks on a weekday morning in Manhattan at around 9 am, you know what how scary long those lines can be. 

The company introduced its mobile payments app back in 2009, and now accounts for 14% of all transactions in the United States. Adding this new feature will no doubt enhance that number even further. I know that I'm alreadyb excited for it to come to my area, and I'll download the app immediately when it does. 

Starbucks and technology

Starbucks has been a champion of technology for years.

After all, this is the company that rolled out its own mobile payments system back in 2011, which allowed customers to pay directly with their smartphones. The company was also Square's first retail partner back in 2012, becoming a leader in the digital wallet revolution.

The company has also been offering free WiFi in its stores nationwide since 2010. It has even started using the Internet of Things to better stock its stores, using Clover coffee-brewing machines which are connected to the cloud and allow stores to not only track customer preferences, but for recipes to be digitally updated and to allow employees to monitor how a coffee maker is performaning.

In a move similar to this latest announcement, the company also recently began allowing customers to tip their barista right from their phone. 

While allowing customers to order ahead is not a revolutionary feature (Chipotle, for example, has been doing this for years) it is just another way that Starbucks is going to use technology to create a better experience for customers.

Shares of Starbucks are currently up 1.71%, or $1.24, to $73.88 a share.

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