By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Starbucks customers may often confront frequent lines at their local location, but the retailer is trying to alleviate this with technology. Starbucks has routinely added new technology options including Apple Pay via the Starbucks mobile app, but now they're expanding the option to three more states. Previously available in only Portland, Oregon, Starbucks is offering mobile ordering to the Pacific Northwest by expanding to Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and additional locations in Oregon. A total of an estimated 650 Starbucks locations will be available for mobile ordering after the expansion. USA Today reported the news on March 10, and the expansion began March 17. The feature, Mobile Order and Pay, is technology meets convenience for both business and consumer.
Mobile ordering and online ordering is quickly becoming a tool for food and drink retailers to offer convenience and efficient customer service for their customers, with chains such as Panera, Taco Bell, and Noodles and Company giving them the option. From a convenience standpoint, mobile ordering coffee makes it easy for a coffee lover to grab a beverage on the way to work, on their lunch break, or while running errands. It also offers an incentive for even a casual coffee drinker to choose Starbucks over a competitor if considering only convenience. When Starbucks first began offering mobile ordering, one problem they had encountered was ensuring that customers' beverages arrive in drinkable condition, i.e. fresh and hot. The company first launched the option in December 2014, and now after testing the option in Portland for several months, it seems that they've eliminated that possibility and streamlined the process.
With so many functions including money management, health monitoring, and communication features, consumers' smartphones are an integral part of their lives. It's logical that retailers are looking to mobile ordering as a way of consumer convenience, because these devices are making daily activities easier in multiple facets of our lives. For now the app's mobile ordering feature option is only available on devices that run iOS, however, an Android version is expected soon. According to USA Today, 12 million customers currently use the Starbucks mobile app, and it sees 7 million mobile payments per week, with mobile payments making up 16% of the retailer's total transactions.
With Mobile Order and Pay, customers can place orders in advance of visiting a nearby participating Starbucks location. The Starbucks app and Starbucks Rewards loyalty program have been integrated with the feature, and the consumers need to opt into location services to find a participating location. From there, they can order using the mobile menu and pay for their selection. All orders are paid for, at this time, by the Starbucks card registered by the consumer. Mobile Order and Pay lets consumers order both food and beverages for pickup at a Starbucks location, with anticipated wait times displayed on the app. Starbucks will also soon begin testing delivery in Seattle with the help of delivery service Postmates, with anticipated rollout in several states throughout 2015, multiple sources reported on March 18.