Starbucks’ Mobile Pre-Ordering Goes International With London Launch

Starbucks has expanded its Mobile Order & Pay (MOP) feature outside the U.S. for the first time with a launch in London. The in-app pre-ordering option is available in 150 stores in the U.K. capital, the company said today.

The coffee chain kicked off a pilot of the queue-busting pre-order feature in the U.S. back in December 2014, and has since expanded it to more than 7,000 stores across the country — with the last U.S. expansion taking place earlier this month.

The app lets Starbucks users order ahead from the menu for collection from a specific store, with payment taken in-app. Users are given an approximate collection time at the point of ordering, and can then pick it up directly from a barista once they get to the store, rather than queueing to make their order. (Although they still have to catch the eye of a busy Starbucks barista to get them to hand over their order.)

How well Starbucks handles the logistics of preparing hot and cold drinks and food ahead of time so that they’re still appropriately hot or cold when the customer arrives to collect them is one logistics question here. Balancing in-store and in-app ordering so that both sets of customers are served without too much delay is another potential challenge.

Starbucks has not released any specific data about adoption of MOP in the U.S. yet, nor dollars spent via the in-app pre-order feature — beyond saying it has seen “a significant increase in incrementality and more transactions” through MOP since its debut as a pilot in Portland last December — so it remains to be seen how popular the feature is.

Starbucks already offered a mobile payment option via its app, with a reloadable Starbucks card that’s scanned at check-out to pay for goods. The coffee chain currently has some 16 million-plus active users on its mobile apps on iOS and Android.