The Short of It
Starting Wednesday, if you open up the Starbucks iPhone app in Portland, Ore., you'll see a new tab that reads "order." If you tap it, you can order a latte and pay for it before you even walk into the shop to pick it up. No more awkward conversations with the Barista about how to spell your name. Is there anything they don't have an app for?
The order-ahead feature signifies something much larger than just avoiding the long holiday lines for your daily caffeine fix. By fusing mobile and physical commerce, Starbucks is once again outpacing Silicon Valley. Portland is the beta city for Starbucks' "Mobile Order & Pay." The plan is to roll out the feature city-by-city in 2015. Starbucks is not pioneering this kind of service, but they do have the unique potential to change consumer behavior because of their massive reach.
This new service will allow Starbucks to leap ahead and solve the issue of how to link up mobile phones to in-store retail. All Starbucks needs to do is flip a switch to launch order-ahead across an entire city. The "Order" tab will appear in the app when customers are within a set point of GPS coordinates where the service is available. If you're already paying at the counter with your phone, this will just feel like the natural evolution to get your morning cup of joe.
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