Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay, which began as a pilot in Portland in December 2014 and launched in the Pacific Northwest in March 2015, is expanding to stores in 21 more states in the southern and central United States today. Store managers say it helps partners provide customers one more way to connect with Starbucks, and the easy-to-use feature has proven convenient for customers eager to save time throughout their day.
Starbucks store manager Jesse Wenkoff-White first heard about Starbucks new mobile ordering feature when the company launched a test in Portland, Oregon, last December. The new feature would allow customers to place an order from their mobile device—skip the line at the register—and pick up their order directly from their barista.
“When I first heard about Mobile Order & Pay in Portland, I was a bit wary,” he says. “It seemed like a lot of technology.”
A few weeks later, when Wenkoff-White’s district manager took him through the training for the Pacific Northwest rollout, he realized how valuable this could be for his customers and busy store in the heart of downtown Seattle’s commercial center. His location, on the ground floor of a 23-story office tower, was frequented by busy, tech-savvy customers who often visited the store two or three times a day.
“It’s fun to have a conversation with customers and teach them how to mobile order,” he says. “We can have fairly long lines in the morning and it’s such an awesome option for customers looking to run in and out if they’re running late. I’ve had so many people tell me how convenient and easy it is. Our customers that use it absolutely love it.”
Once Mobile Order & Pay launched in Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest, he said the process felt seamless for both customers and baristas. The store’s baristas have even begun using it as well.
Wenkoff-White has also noticed that customers quickly started building Mobile Order & Pay into their daily routines to save time. Some were using the app to place orders each morning as they got off the bus, others as they were running out to grab a late lunch or from their desks as they're about to take an afternoon coffee break.
Twenty-five miles east of downtown Seattle, Kaylene Schaefer manages a store in the residential community of Snoqualmie Ridge, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
“When we first starting practicing with Mobile Order & Pay before the rollout, we were all pretty cautious,” Schaefer says. “But once we got used to it, it was great. By the time we got our first mobile order ticket on launch day, our team was so excited.”
In her store, it’s not just commuters taking advantage of mobile ordering. “We see a lot parents with young children order ahead with Mobile Order & Pay, which makes it easier to manage the kids without standing in line,” she says. “We also see nearby businesses use the app for their large food and beverage orders for meetings.”
Even though the technology behind Mobile Order & Pay may be cutting edge, it still supports what has been foundational to the Starbucks experience—the personal interaction between partners and their customers.
“One of the things that has been so important about Mobile Order & Pay is the connection when we hand off that beverage to our customer,” Wenkoff-White says. “We still get to make it personal.”