The Starbucks experience aims to be the same no matter where you get your coffee

September 22, 2022

Visitors to Starbucks locations in some retailers will soon be able to pre-order and earn rewards points via mobile phone, just like visiting Starbucks standalone locations.

Starbucks earlier this month announced plans to expand rewards benefits and order-per-app functionality to more licensee locations tasting table. Licensee locations in places like gas stations and hotels, and grocery stores like Kroger, Hy-Vee, and Publix make up a significant portion of the coffee chain’s store presence. While Starbucks has around 9,000 company-operated stores, another 6,500 are licensees. Most of these licensees have not previously participated in Starbucks’ broader loyalty program (1,400 were already participating when the expansion was announced).

Starbucks mobile ordering, launched in 2014, has become a popular service for rewards program members — in fact, some Starbucks employees find it a bit too popular.

Business Insider reported last year that a number of current and former baristas said customers were bombarding Starbucks with app-based pickup orders. They also complained about customer rudeness and demanding complicated, time-consuming TikTok-inspired orders made through the app. Starbucks tells Business Insider at the time the complaints did not reflect the experience of the majority of store staff or customers.

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Expanding mobile ordering to thousands more locations could handle app-based orders from mainline stores and reduce barista stress or, conversely, increase demands on licensed baristas who have so far been spared the additional workload of app orders.

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Improved staffing to take some of the pressure off baristas is a key demand from Starbucks workers who are unionizing, along with higher wages, better benefits and more control over schedules, they say CNBC. As of August, 209 Starbucks stores across the US had officially voted to join a union.

The announcement of expanding rewards and mobile payments for licensed stores isn’t the only step Starbucks has taken to expand mobile ordering options for customers.

For a number of years, the chain has been experimenting with pickup-only store concepts in high-traffic areas like Manhattan.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the addition of mobile payments and rewards for licensed stores as a necessary step in improving the Starbucks experience for customers? Will employees in the stores affected by this change encounter operational issues?

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brain trust

“If your name is above the door or on the marquee, the customer experience should be the same. It’s good to see Starbucks addressing this issue.”


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