Starbucks Starts Deploying “Mobile Order & Pay” at 650 Outlets

Loyal Starbucks customers across multiple states in the U.S. can now order their beverage of choice beforehand using the coffee chain giant’s dedicated mobile app. The new service, called Mobile Order & Pay, was first piloted in its Portland stores during December of last year. Now this pre-order service is being expanded to 650 stores across the Pacific Northwest region, in states like Washington, Seattle, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Mobile Order & Pay is seamlessly integrated into Starbucks’ mobile app and the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program as well.

Starbucks plans to continue a national roll out throughout 2015. Committed to enhancing the customer experience, the ease of use for both customers and partners (baristas) is expected to increase speed of service, drive incremental transactions, and increase throughput across Starbucks stores. Mobile Order & Pay allows customers to place orders before they arrive at the store and pick them up at their chosen Starbucks store.

The app interface shows store locations, which appear based on the GPS functionality of the customer’s phone. The mobile ordering process simply involves scrolling through the menu on the app interface, picking your choice of items and your store of preference, and then paying using the in-app payment system. The particular store gets notified of the order, which is prepared and kept ready for when the customer arrives at the store.

Here is a video illustration highlighting how the new service works:

We are all for cashless-payments innovation and adoption by retailers and restaurants around the globe, but there seem to be a few basic flaws with this solution that creates doubts in our minds. For starters, pre-ordering has not really picked up much in the U.S., primarily because it requires users to pre-plan. Visiting a nearby café is more often than not a last minute decision, and orders tend to be be impulsive. Restaurants such as Panera and Chipotle have tried the pre-order model before, and we can safely report that they did not meet with much success.