The Starbucks experience aims to be the same no matter where you get your coffee
Visitors to Starbucks locations inside some retailers will soon be able to order ahead via mobile, not to mention earn rewards points, just as they do when they visit standalone Starbucks locations.
Starbucks earlier this month announced plans to begin extending rewards benefits and order-by-app functionality to more licensee locations, according to Tasting Table. Licensee locations in places like gas stations and hotels, as well as grocery stores like Kroger, Hy-Vee and Publix, constitute a significant chunk of the coffee chain’s store footprint. While Starbucks has around 9,000 company-operated stores, an additional 6,500 are licensees. Most of these licensees have not participated in the broader Starbucks loyalty program up until now (1,400 were already taking part when the expansion was announced).
Starbucks mobile ordering, which debuted in 2014, has become a popular service for rewards program members – in fact some Starbucks employees find it to be a bit too popular.
Business Insider reported last year that a number of current and former baristas said that customers were overwhelming Starbucks with app-based pickup orders. They also complained of customer rudeness and demands for complicated, time-consuming TikTok-inspired orders being made through the app. Starbucks told Business Insider at the time that the complaints were not reflective of the experience of the majority of store staff or customers.
Expanding mobile ordering capability to thousands more locations could wick off app-based orders from mainline stores and reduce barista stress or conversely it could increase the demands on licensee baristas who have been thus far spared from the added workload of app orders.
Improved staffing to take some of the strain off of baristas is one of the major demands of those Starbucks employees who are unionizing, along with increased pay, improved benefits and more control over schedules, according to CNBC. As of August, 209 Starbucks stores in the U.S. had officially voted to unionize.
The announcement about expanding rewards and mobile pay to licensee stores is not the only step Starbucks has made to expand mobile ordering options for customers.
For a few years, the chain has been experimenting with pickup only store concepts in high foot traffic areas like Manhattan.
- Starbucks Stores In Kroger Are Changing In A Major Way – Tasting Table
- Former Starbucks workers say the chain’s mobile ordering is out of control — leading to in-store delays, rude customers, and the pressure to make TikTok-inspired drinks – Business Insider
- Have people had their fill of contact-free retail? – RetailWire
- Unions are forming at Starbucks, Apple and Google. Here’s why workers are organizing now – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see adding mobile pay and rewards to licensee stores as a necessary step in improving the Starbucks experience for customers? Will staff run into operational issues in the stores that are affected by this change?