Starbucks To Begin Tests For Mobile Orders, Payments

Starbucks plans to begin testing a service that lets customers place orders ahead of time via smartphone at some of its U.S. stores later this year.

Adam Brotman, the company’s chief digital officer, told Bloomberg News the coffee giant would let customers choose coffee or food while inline or before entering an outlet through the Starbucks mobile app.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has long mentioned mobile ordering as a service the company planned to introduce, based on customer feedback. But previously, it hasn’t given any kind of timeline for rolling out the option. Even now, Brotman provided few details about the rollout of mobile ordering this year.

The step would build on Starbucks’ burgeoning mobile payments business and loyalty program. The company processes almost 5 million mobile transactions a week through its payments app, which boasts 10 million active monthly users.

“We are just beginning to appreciate the full magnitude and possibilities of the Starbucks mobile payment platform opportunity,” said Schultz during the company’s fourth-quarter earning conference call in January.

On March 19, the company will update its iPhone app to include another feature it has discussed in the past—barista tipping—as well as a new shake-to-pay function. More than 11% of Starbucks U.S. are handled via mobile—a figure Brotman suggested could double in the next year.

Starbucks isn’t the only chain to explore pre-paying through mobile. Last September, McDonald’s began testing an app that lets customers use their phones to order food in advance. La Boulange, the, bakery chain Starbucks acquired in 2012, had already been taking mobile through its app.

Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks’ most direct competitor is ramping up its mobile offerings, too. In January, it rolled out its mobile-friendly DD Perks Reward loyalty program nationally. Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis last month said the company’s app had been downloaded 5.5 million times to date. 

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