Starbucks expands mobile ordering services in Toronto, Vancouver

Three months after giving iPhone users access to its Mobile Order & Pay service at 300 Toronto-area stores, Starbucks has announced that as of Jan. 11, Toronto-based Android users will also be able to access its advance ordering service – and that iOS and Android users in Vancouver will be able to join them on Jan. 19.

An expansion of the company’s successful mobile app, which invites users to pay for orders in-store using their phones, Mobile Order & Pay allows Starbucks lovers to order their food, coffee, or custom frappuccino before leaving home and choose which location they will pick it up from, complete with an estimated pick-up time. Their order is ready when they arrive.

“Starbucks has seen an incredible uptake of mobile ordering since we first introduced Mobile Order & Pay to Toronto-based iOS users last October,” Jessica Mills, the company’s Canadian director of brand and digital, told ITBusiness.ca. “The whole program has gone from 30 stores to more than 7000 in less than 18 months.”

While Starbucks has not released the specific number of users who have placed orders using Mobile Order & Pay, Mills said it’s seen “strong adoption” of the service among the 18 per cent of its customer base that already used the Starbucks app to pay for orders in person, and that the service’s rate of use has “exceeded” the company’s expectations.

“The key to our success is keeping the customer and barista connection at the heart of the experience while… listening to what our customers say they need,” she said.

The company’s user-first approach can serve as a useful model for other organizations considering mobile apps that allow users to make retail transactions, Mills said, though she notes that the developers of such apps should always be prepared to innovate and make changes to their programs to ensure an easy user experience.

Asked why Toronto received the Mobile Order & Pay service before Vancouver, Mills said that in order to successfully implement such a large-scale program, the company needed to use a rolling approach. It did the same in the U.S., where customers in Portland, Oregon received access to mobile orders in December 2014 before they were joined by residents in other cities, leading to the service’s nationwide U.S. launch in September 2015.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of ITBusiness.ca turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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