You may remember earlier this year that Starbucks was carrying out tests to see how long its coffee takes to cool down. More importantly, how long does it stay hot enough to be classed as a decent cup of coffee. The reason? Extending the functionality of the company’s mobile app so you can order in advance, and this week that service went live.
If you live in Portland, Oregon the Starbucks mobile app can now be used to order ahead. This means your coffee (and food) of choice is paid for and waiting for you as you enter your nearest Starbucks. There’s no need to wait in line or tell the barista what drink you want, just grab it and go.
Officially the system is called Mobile Order & Pay, and Starbucks intends to roll it out city-by-city across the US next year. The app is actually quite clever in its use of GPS location to figure out where you are and whether any local Starbucks outlets offer the order ahead service. If they do, you’ll be given the option. The GPS location is also important for knowing if you can actually get to the Starbucks in time for your coffee to still be hot. We don’t actually know how long that is, but Starbucks does tell the user the expected travel time and wait time for their drink.
As it doesn’t cost extra, removes the need to wait, and requires no interaction whatsoever, I imagine Mobile Order & Pay is going to be extremely popular. But there is a “but.” Starbucks needs to support it properly. If a constant stream of people are entering a busy location to grab their pre-ordered coffee, it has to be ready and waiting every time. If you have to line-up to pick-up your coffee then Starbucks will have two lines to deal with and some annoyed customers to handle. Another limitation right now is the fact it seems to only work on iPhones. Starbucks really needs to add the functionality to Android if it really wants the service to take off.