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Starbucks’ new express store showcases mobile POS, ordering

Starbucks is bringing its popular Mobile Order and Pay feature east as the brand introduces New York residents to its first express format store, offering busy consumers a streamlined experience for getting their favorite beverages and proving the coffeehouse chain is still the mobile leader in the food and beverage sector.

The express store is opening at 14 Wall Street and is the first out of four locations that Starbucks plans to pilot in New York. Alongside offering customers the ability to use their smartphones to order prior to arrival, the store will also include a digital menu and greeters equipped with handheld devices.

“At this time, Mobile Order and Pay is offered at more than 600 participating Starbucks locations in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska), and will continue its nationwide rollout in 2015,” said a spokeswoman for Starbucks, Seattle, WA. “This store was designed to be flexible, and can accommodate a variety of company programs, including Mobile Order and Pay.”

“This pilot project is tailored for customers on-the-go who want high-quality Starbucks products in a beautiful environment, coupled with the efficiency that comes with knowing what they want, quickly,” Starbucks’ spokeswoman said. “The early order point at this location leverages technology from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room and allows customers to move seamlessly through the line.”

On-the-go Starbucks
The brand hopes that the express store will be ideal for residents and working individuals around the New York Stock Exchange who may not have ample time to get their daily beverage. The pilot project has been designed to emulate an “espresso shot” version of the regular Starbucks store, perfect for consumers who desire the branded drinks and would like to order quickly.

Guests will be greeted by a Starbucks employee at the door who will be taking orders to input into a mobile device. The brand believes pushing mobile point-of-sale positions will better manage wait times and maximize efficiency for customers and employees.

“Typically, express format stores are meant to address customer’s needs in areas typically difficult to establish a full retail location,” said Derrick Lin, senior mobile strategist at Resource/Ammirati, Columbus, OH. “Naturally, in the case of Starbucks on Wall Street, they serve busy customers who don’t have the luxury of sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee with a caffeine boost right when they need it, and mobile POS can further support the efficiency.

“Specifically, mobile POS can streamline the ordering and payment process and reduce the wait time especially when Starbucks is rolling out the mobile ordering service where customers can place their order ahead of time. It is a great example of how mobile can augment the efficiency part of the store experience.”

The store is opening at a historic Wall Street location and registered New York landmark, demonstrating Starbucks’ dedication to engaging in strategic partnerships and rolling out store locations that pay tribute to local culture.

“We plan to open four more of these formats in New York in 2015,” Starbucks’ spokeswoman said. “We will take what we learn from this pilot to consider additional locations in the future.”

As Starbucks has already experienced high revenue with its drive-thru option, the express store format has been created with a similar format. It will likely be an optimal aesthetic for metropolitan cities, where drive-thrus are not as common.

Leading in mobile
While the brand’s Mobile Order and Pay feature is currently only available in Pacific Northwest locations, guests of the express store will have the ability to be among the first to test it out on the East Coast.

Mobile Order and Pay enables customers to select their beverage and any add-ons or specifics on their mobile devices, and pay for the order within the mobile application. When they arrive at their nearest Starbucks, they can simply grab their ready-made drink and leave.

Starbucks is also adding several shots of espresso to its mobile ordering strategy by announcing two delivery models, a tactic which will be a game-changer for food and beverage marketers aiming to compete with the brand (see story).

The beverage brand will be teaming up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to enable fans to order food and drink products from the Starbucks mobile application and have their items delivered within specific areas. Starbucks will be piloting this option in Seattle in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, New York will be the testing location of choice for the second service: a “Green Apron” barista delivery feature that that would enable consumers in specific buildings to order beverages and food, which will be brought to them by a Starbucks barista.

Starbucks’ view of mobile as the future of retail, not just marketing, has earned it both users’ trust and the freedom to test new features, auguring well for its continuation as a dominant brand, a Mobile Marketer analysis shows (see story).

“While an express format store is most likely not going to satisfy all customer types, we think it is going to resonate well with time-strapped consumers who value efficiency (as opposed to customers that value store ambience, service, etc.),” Mr. Lin said. “It is a tricky balance that retailers have to strike when they develop express stores since there will be trade-offs to make between conserving the core essence of a brand experience and satisfying needs within limited square footage.

“Retailers can potentially leverage more technologies to further augment the experience of an express store. For example, branded apps, beacons in and near express store locations, SMS and/or Push notifications, mobile wallet and payment (Apple Pay) and social media integration (ex. Tweet live pop-up locations) can improve the experience.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York