It's a big day for people sick of standing in line for their latte: Starbucks is launching mobile ordering nationwide on Tuesday, following a limited rollout that started last December. Customers in the U.S. will be able to order and pay for food and drink using the Starbucks app in both iOS and Android devices. All that's left to do is walk into the store and pick it up.
The service will be available at the chain's 7,400 company-owned stores in the U.S. (it already had rolled out to about 4,000 by summer), but not the thousands of other locations run by licensees (for example, those in Target). The chain will also offer it in some locations in the U.K. and Canada later this year.
"Mobile order and pay is clearly the initiative that investors are most excited about at this juncture, and rightly so, in our opinion," stated an analyst report by the firm William Blair.
More fast-food chains are developing technology that allows consumers to place their orders themselves. Panera and Taco Bell have also rolled out mobile ordering apps, while others like McDonald's are installing in-store kiosks.
Already, about 1 in 5 Starbucks customers pay by app, which helps to speed up the line. The company hopes that by eliminating, or at least reducing, wait times by allowing customers to order before they arrive, people will be more willing to stop in during the morning rush hour, or when they have little time to spend in line. For those who don't want to step foot in a Starbucks at all, the chain is also working on a delivery service, which will mainly target customers placing group orders.
In test markets in the Pacific Northwest, mobile ordering helped Starbucks to increase sales. "Mobile order and pay is fueling both revenue and profit growth in every market in which it has been deployed," CEO Howard Schultz told investors in July.
Here's how it will work.