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Starbucks’ wireless chargers create smartphone-friendly atmosphere

Coffee lovers will have yet another excuse to linger around their local Starbucks store as a dead phone will no longer be a cause for concern. The coffeehouse chain will likely see an increase in business given more time will be spent in its stores.

“Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world at understanding and embracing the mobile consumer,” said Mark Tack, vice president of marketing at Vibes, Chicago.

“Adding mobile phone charging stations to the coffee drinking experience is brilliant,” he said.

“The longer you sit in a Starbucks and work, talk, surf or read the more coffee you drink and the more your smartphone battery drains. This is a great way to meet a real need facing most smartphone users.”

Mr. Tack is not affiliated with Starbucks or Duracell, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Starbucks nor Duracell responded by press deadline.

Glued to technology
During a time when almost any task can be completed with a smartphone, the most common complaint concerning the device seems to be battery life.

Consumers cannot use mobile to pay, surf or navigate without a charged battery. When access to a wall outlet is not feasible, consumers will often forgo many basic functions.

A charging station solution, such as the one Starbucks has developed with Duracell, creates an enormous breakthrough for consumers on-the-go who constantly use their smartphones.

Starbucks has long attracted tech-savvy customers because of free Wi-Fi access, charging outlets and mobile pay options. Also, the brand dedicates itself to discovering advancements in technology to enhance the consumer experience.

One hundred percent charged
While wireless chargers in retail are a relatively new concept, apparel and accessories retailer Urban Outfitters drew in shoppers with iPhone charging stations last summer.

Many of the Urban Outfitters stores have implemented charging stations to their stores. The charging tables have 10 iPhone chargers that shoppers can use free of charge (see story).

Overseas, Starbucks has launched other campaigns to better serve mobile consumers.

For example, Starbuck’s beta launch of mobile pre-ordering in South Korea set the stage for a broader roll out and has the potential to be another home run for the chain if it can successfully reduce customer wait times.

The company-first Siren Order service enables rewards members to make pre-payments for beverages through the native Starbucks app. While numerous quick-service restaurants have embraced mobile pre-orders to reduce wait times for customers with reportedly mixed results, Starbucks, whose app has already been a major success for the company, has a lot riding on its ability to get this right (see story).

Other retailers could benefit from implementing similar strategies.

“This certainly demonstrates how Starbucks is committed to improving the overall experience for its loyalty customers,” Mr. Tack said.

“It’s a bold move, which we have come to expect from Starbucks,” he said. “Starbucks was an early innovator with Passbook and continues to raise the bar with mobile innovation.

“Last April, we learned that 10 percent of Starbucks sales come from mobile and I’m sure that number has continued to increase (see story). Going all in on mobile has clearly worked for Starbucks, and I expect to see more marketers to continue to raise their mobile game as well.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York