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Starbucks AI barista further reduces human interaction, shifts mobile ordering

Starbucks is continuing to drive innovation in mobile retail with its announcement of an artificial-intelligence solution, which will act as a barista within customers’ mobile devices.

During Starbucks’ Investment Day, the coffee chain announced its upcoming My Starbucks Barista feature that will likely support its bulldozing strategy to corner the mobile market. The AI technology will allow users to order their drinks and food through messaging and voice recognition on the application, without having to be in stores.

“Starbucks was a pioneer in mobile apps and its success accelerated the adoption of mobile ordering and payments in the industry,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP. “Not resting on their laurels, Starbucks continues to push the envelope to introduce new innovative mobile features, like My Starbucks® Barista, that increase customer engagement and make the shopping/ordering process more convenient.

“Other retailers and food services providers will need follow Starbucks’ lead, as consumers will begin to expect the same level of convenience everywhere,” he said.

Digital barista
Mobile technology is making leaps and bounds, especially in 2016. Starbucks is continuing to lead the charge with a multiple features that streamline the customer experience and make it easier for them to get in and out.

While many critics believe that the increasing capability of technology within retail is taking away the personal experience and human interaction, the truth is that consumers respond to innovations like this.

A beta version will rollout to iPhone owners in early 2017, followed by a tiered launch to the rest of iOS and Android. The feature will allow users to type in a messaging format in Starbucks’ app to order.

My Starbucks Barista will also leverage voice-recognition technology and allow users to speak to the app to place an order. The new feature will make Starbucks already-convenient mobile ordering even easier.

Instead of having to sift through the almost endless number of menu options offered for mobile orders, users can just send a message. The process mimics the order-at-the-counter experience but emphasizes convenience by recreating it on the mobile device.

Users will only have to send their order and pick it up at the nearest Starbucks location. This in-and-out experience via mobile is where the fast dining industry is heading, and quite possibly may already be here.

Starbucks is leading the charge.

Human interaction may be decreasing at fast food joints, but personalization is only growing stronger. Starbucks has been working on its product recommendations that suggest items to pair or additions to add during checkout on the app.

Within the beginning of the New Year, Starbucks believes the rollout of suggested selling should be complete.

Order up
In April Starbucks announced that Mobile Order and Pay accounted for 10 percent of transactions in its busiest stores, a number that rises to 20 percent during peak hours, while transaction volume has grown 150 percent over the past year in the launch city of Portland, OR.

During its second-quarter earnings call last week, Starbucks revealed its Mobile Order and Pay program is still growing at a rapid pace, with a 13 percent year-over-year sales increase throughout the morning rush. The convenience of Mobile Order and Pay has been a huge driver for Starbucks and is still seeing significant adoption rates with app users, with 4 percent of total sales coming from the service, which is a sequential 40 percent increase (see more).

Starbucks also recently increased its mobile payment platform to include the recently launched Chase Pay on its app, which makes it compatible with four mobile pay solutions.

Known as a leader in mobile commerce apps, Starbucks was one of the first retailers to include Chase Pay into its app and just updated to launch the partnership live. This means Chase customers can easily integrate their payment information into the Starbucks app without having to continually identify their credit card number, but it is the fact that the retailer has now partnered with so many mobile pay providers that could possibly impact the industry (see more).

“Voice-activated command technology gained traction when Apple’s introduced the Siri feature on the iPhone five years ago,” Mr. Naumann said. “Since then, many companies are building AI into their products to enable consumers to manage devices or tasks hands-free, such as Amazon Echo, Xfinity X1 Voice Remote and Domino’s Pizza.

“People are very busy and anything companies can do to make their products and services more convenient will go a long way to enhancing customer loyalty,” he said.