Starbucks is no longer playing around with the possibility of letting its customers order their drinks without actually being in the store or at a service counter. This past Wednesday the company confirmed that it plans to let its customers order drinks through their Starbucks for iPhone and Android apps.
Adam Brotman, who is Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer, declared the company’s intention to rollout online orders through the Starbucks app for Android and iPhone in no uncertain terms, saying “We will do this and we will get it right,” according to Recode.
Brotman went on to share more details about the coming program during Fortune’s technology event on Wednesday, saying that it would soon begin testing orders through its iPhone app in a particular unnamed store. Once the company has worked out all of the kinks, including determining how long it takes kinds of coffee to cool, they’ll roll it out to more stores. Starbucks hopes to get the process “down to a science,” said Brotman.
If it can do so it might be able to prevent the nightmare scenarios that come along with letting customers order their drinks before they leave home, mainly beverages that have gotten cold in the time it takes customers to reach their local store. Presumably, the company wants to maintain the ice-to-mix ratio of its cold drinks too. Nailing both are important because, Starbucks has built an entire brand around the idea that it cares about each individual drink that leaves its counters. The company has even gone so far as to describe its beverages as “handcrafted.”
Starbucks is in a unique position to roll out online ordering through its Starbucks for Android and Starbucks for iPhone apps. According to Recode, some 14% of all orders are paid for through its mobile applications. The app is generally considered to be a perfect example of what happens when businesses marry the conveniences of a phone app with effective marketing. Starbucks for iPhone users receive free apps, music and games directly from the iTunes Store. Starbucks also rewards users with free drinks and special coupons through a loyalty program that’s directly tied to the app and physical gift card in the event that their smartphone dies.
Other companies have tried loyalty programs and iPhone apps, but very few of them have become as popular as Starbucks for iPhone. Starbucks didn’t just release an app and fail to iterate on it. It’s also adapted the Starbucks for iPhone app overtime and integrated it into users’ lifestyle. When Apple added its Passbook system for keeping track of loyalty cards and more, Starbucks was one of the first companies to seize on the opportunity. Today, users don’t even need to open the Starbucks app installed on their iPhone if they don’t want to. Passbook for iPhone, keeps track of their balance effortlessly.
The Starbucks for iPhone and Android apps have worked out so well that Starbucks is actually considering jumping into the payment market on its own. Starbucks is having discussions with other companies who have retail locations. The idea is to let Starbucks app users pay for purchases in other stores too, turning the Starbucks system into a wallet system that could be used anywhere.
The whole idea sounds a lot like the Google Wallet payment system that some smartphones running Google’s Android operating system have included. If Starbucks is able to get other companies to sign up than it’s already in a better place than Google Wallet is. Carriers have successfully made Google Wallet a non-story, mostly so that they can force their own ISIS payment system on smartphone buyers.
Mobile drink ordering is a priority for Starbucks right now, according to Brotman, but users could see this mobile wallet system “sooner rather than later.”
Starbucks hasn’t released an app for Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.
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