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Starbucks’ app update raises bar on mobile payments

As a leader in mobile payments, Starbucks is raising the bar for streamlined smartphone experiences with an update to its application that moves rewards front-and-center and makes scanning easier.

The beverage retailer seems to be the model to follow when it comes to mobile loyalty and payments, and maintains this spot by continually listening to users and making adjustments along the way. Its customers have easily taken to its app for a more convenient checkout process and greater rewards, and its recent upgrade makes the process even smoother with features such as showcasing rewards on the pay screen and a lower bar code for easier scanning.

“Starbucks is an incredibly high volume business,” said David Bozin, vice president of growth and business development at Bindo. “But their business is no longer just making delicious caffeinated beverages for their consumers.

“Their business is defining what the consumer wants before they even think of it,” he said. “Coffee is a given in almost everybody’s day, certainly mine, thus, if I can crunch some numbers between weather and your consumption of coffee, I can make a pretty accurate guess as to what you will be ordering tomorrow based on the forecast.

“Nobody really cares that much about what they will pay with, so long as they feel it is secure. High volume of orders with a lot of consistent come-back customers means that they can be trained to act in a certain way. In this case, it is via the method of payment. At the end of the day, it will only benefit the end-consumer to continue using the Starbucks app.”

Streamlining performance
Mobile payments and easier options for checkout are becoming a staple within the retail industry, and Starbucks has a lot at stake being the top contender. It is imperative for the retailer to continually tweak and improve its highly coveted app to keep customers coming back.

The retailer introduced a variety a small features, which when taken together have moved the app forward to solidify a streamlined experience. The interface of the rewards app has been upgraded for better viewing on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, as well as numerous tweaks to the pay screen.

The pay screen now instantaneously showcases which rewards the individual has available, eliminating the need to access numerous screens to determine if there is a deal available and to use it. Starbucks also moved the bar code on the payment screen for a faster checkout. The original positioning of the bar code could have caused more of a clunky scanning process, and dropping the location allows for baristas to quickly find and scan the code.

Users can also seamlessly transfer balances between various Starbucks cards and manage them all in one place, as well as add it into their passbook account.

These changes are important because many of them remove lag time and steps in between during sale finalization. Retailers must incorporate ways to reward their loyal customers, and in today’s mobile-centric world it is vital to do so through mobile efforts.

The beverage retailer knows that the elimination of extra steps with commerce and loyalty apps means the less likely of sale abandonment.

Mobile updates
Starbucks also rolled out its mobile order-and-pay feature to thousands of United States stores after recognizing its potential in Portland, the initial test market, to increase sales, shorten store lines and drive customer satisfaction (see more).

Also, the retailer expanded its partnership with The New York Times to bring top daily articles to its mobile application users and reward loyalty members with points when they purchase print and digital subscriptions, reflecting the growing importance of top-notch content for merchants on mobile (see more).

“The fewer opportunities there are to get stuck, the more opportunities there are to get customers to buy,” Mr. Bozin said. “That is the simple explanation of how streamlining an app’s checkout behooves a company.

“Every extra step is an opportunity for a customer to say ‘forget it…it is too hard,'” he said. “The fewer steps, the fewer the hiccups. Why bother? Because in this case, Starbucks has data on every consumer. More data means more specialized offers, more specialized offers result in more purchases, more purchases means even more data.

“As we see with Apple Pay and all the other payment platforms, the easier the better. The immediate need is to get consumers out of the habit of reaching for their credit cards, and into the habit of reaching for their phones. And once again, more data results in more purchases.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily