Starbucks, a longtime industry leader when it comes to adoption of mobile payments and mobility loyalty in-store, announced this morning that its “Mobile Order & Pay” system is now available nationwide. The service, which allows Starbucks customers to place orders via the company’s mobile application ahead of arrival at their local store, was previously available in several thousand locations across the U.S. while in beta testing for users on iOS devices.
Today, the company says the service is available in more than 7,400 stores, including those in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Additionally, Mobile Order & Pay is now available to Android users.
The idea with Mobile Order & Pay is to offer customers a faster alternative to waiting in line. Using a simple, touch-based interface, you can select food and beverage items from the in-app menu, choose which store you want to pick up from by referencing an included store list and map, then pay using your Starbucks card to complete the transaction.
Cards can also be reloaded in the app as necessary using saved payment card information or Apple Pay.
When customers then arrive at the location, they simply walk up to the counter and ask for their mobile order. (As a beta tester myself, I found the most difficult part of using the Mobile Order & Pay system has not been the technology – it’s been the people. Once at the store, you have to catch the attention of busy baristas who have your order behind the counter. This is, by far, the slowest part of using Mobile Order & Pay.)
The company has invested for years in mobile technology, making scanning your phone at checkout a common behavior among a sizable customer base.
Today, there are over 16 million active users on Starbucks’ mobile apps on iOS and Android devices. That’s a large audience who’s already used to managing payments via their smartphone, so the expansion to mobile ordering was a natural next step.
According to Starbucks, demand for Mobile Order & Pay has been high, and represents a growing portion of the mobile payments taking place at Starbucks stores. Currently, mobile payments account for 20 percent of all in-store transactions across the U.S., a company spokesperson notes, and Starbucks today processes nearly nine million mobile transactions each week.
However, because the system was still in beta testing until today, and not rolled out to all stores or customers, Starbucks declined to reveal metrics related specifically to the adoption of Mobile Order & Pay. But the company would say that it has seen “a significant increase in incrementality and more transactions through Mobile Order & Pay” since its debut as a pilot program in Portland last December. With the expansion to all markets, Starbucks is expecting adoption to grow further.
Following today’s nationwide launch, Starbucks says it will work to bring the mobile ordering system to international markets, beginning with company-owned stores in the U.K. and Canada in October.
“Bringing Mobile Order and Pay to our customers is about meeting their needs of convenience and customization at any time of the day,” said Adam Brotman, Starbucks chief digital officer in a statement this morning. “The fact that it also represents the fastest technology application rollout we have ever done is indicative of the strength of our digital ecosystem, how well it has been received by both our customers and store partners, and the impact we think it can have on the future of retail,” he added.
Mobile Order & Pay is only one of several initiatives the company now has underway which use technology to reach customers in new ways.
For example, the company plans to begin testing a “green apron” delivery service in New York City at the Empire State Building by the end of 2015. This is a web-based ordering system where food and beverage orders are delivered within the building to tenants by the baristas staffing the Starbucks inside the building.
In addition, Starbucks tells us it will begin testing a street delivery service in Seattle that also leverages Mobile Order & Pay. But in this case, instead of customers picking up orders themselves at a nearby store, order deliveries will be executed in partnership with Postmates.
Both the “green apron” service and the street delivery services will be in testing before the end of the year, the company says.