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Starbucks uncaps potential for mobile sales surge with Windows app

Starbucks is looking to unearth new streams of revenue by expanding its mobile payment capabilities to a wider range of consumers, this time rolling out its application for smartphones on the Windows 10 operating system.

The coffee giant released its Windows 10 app to consumers in Britain, Canada and the United States on Wednesday. Although the Starbucks app for Windows 10 does not yet offer order-ahead functionality, users can still pay for purchases, find nearby locations, send egift cards and manage their rewards accounts via their smartphones.

“Since its first app launch, Starbucks has been one of the leading retailers in mobile apps, ordering and payments,” said Paul Dubie, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “It has been constantly driving customers to their phones for ordering and payments, not only to streamline the stores’ order and checkout processes, but also to enhance the customers’ experiences by making it easy for them to get in, and get out with their coffee.

“Expanding to additional mobile platforms, like Windows smartphones, will increase Starbucks’ customer reach and will likely have a positive impact on its revenue.”

An outpour of Windows support
Consumers in Canada, the United States and Britain can now download the new Starbucks app for Windows 10 devices. While the beverage retailer has had apps for Android and iOS customers available since 2009, this new app marks its first iteration for smartphones on the Windows 10 operating system.

The Starbucks app for Windows 10 enables users to pay for purchases at more than 7,500 Starbucks stores.

Perhaps the biggest missing ingredient is the inability to order items prior to arriving at a Starbucks location, a capability that has gained widespread popularity among Android and iOS customers.

As of late April, Mobile Order and Pay accounted for 10 percent of transactions in Starbucks’ busiest stores, a number that rises to 20 percent during peak hours, while transaction volume grew 150 percent over the past year in the launch city of Portland, OR (see story).

However, this feature will likely be implemented in a future app update.

Consumers will have the option to leave a digital tip on purchases they make with the Windows 10 app, according to a post on Windows’ blog.

Whipping up other features
Despite the lack of Mobile Order and Pay functionality, Windows 10 device owners will still be able to take advantage of a plethora of mobile-only features within the new app.

For instance, customers can manage their existing Starbucks Cards by checking, reloading and transferring their balances and viewing transaction history.

They may also collect and track “stars,” or rewards, if they are loyalty members. If a user is eligible to redeem a reward, he or she can simply scan the corresponding QR code in-store.

Starbucks’ loyalty program has undergone several changes in recent months.

To supplement the launch of its revamped rewards program – which enables members to redeem deals via the Mobile Order & Pay platform – Starbucks rolled out a redesigned app this past spring that showcases content personalized to each user, a first for the digitally savvy brand (see story).

Lastly, Windows 10 app users will be able to send Starbucks egift cards to friends and family, as well as leverage the store locator tool to look up directions, hours and amenities.

Starbucks’ rollout of the Windows 10 app demonstrates the importance for retailers to introduce mobile apps compatible with each operating system – not just the two most obvious players.

Additionally, the app rollout will expand Starbucks’ reach to a wider range of consumers ahead of the competitive holiday season.

“As more and more people use their phones for everything from shopping to payments, it is extremely important for retailers to reach all of their customers, regardless of mobile platform,” Mr. Dubie said. “The phone is just another touchpoint for the customer to interact with the retailer.

“By expanding their apps beyond traditional iPhone and Android phone users, this allows retailers to reach an even broader customer base. Mobile technology has evolved in the last few years to allow developers to write the code once, and deploy it to multiple other platforms like Windows smartphones, providing a much quicker-to-market app launch.”