Would Pre-Ordering Your Starbucks Be Convenient Or Just Make People Hate You?

With online ordering at Starbucks you could cut this entire line.  (afagen)

With online ordering at Starbucks you could cut this entire line.

We’re a society largely based on convenience, and quick service is alway welcomed, right? And many of us make a daily trip to Starbucks, without which we’d be unable to function. Starbucks customers tired of waiting in line for their caffeine fix would understandably be excited to hear about Starbucks’ plan to introduce mobile pre-ordering, but is it a holy grail or a Pandora’s box?

Officials with the company say they are “actively working” on a mobile ordering function of the coffee shop’s wildly popular mobile app, Bloomberg reports.

The new service, which would be tested at select stores, allows consumers to select coffee or food while in line or before coming into the cafe, a move that officials say could speed up service and save you precious time.

That sounds all well and good, but we see a few potential issues with this new service.

First of all, for consumers who lack a smartphone or are otherwise smartphone challenged, they’ll likely continue to stand in line during the morning coffee rush. So, what will happen when Mr. High-Tech walks in off the street and goes straight to the pickup counter?

We could see there being a certain degree of annoyance, if not straight-up anger from patrons patiently waiting their turn.

And when you get up to the pick-up counter, after cutting 20 people, who’s to say how long that drink has been sitting there. We don’t know yet if the service will allow patrons to select a time for pick-up, but if they don’t, it’s plausible that your piping hot coffee is more lukewarm by the time you enter the shop.

Now, what if that double shot soy vanilla latte you ordered online is wrong? Yep, they made it caramel, and you can’t stand caramel. Your quick trip to the local Starbucks just got twice as long, and the people behind you that haven’t had their cup of coffee yet are probably ready to bounce on you.

Granted that problem can happen even if you waited in line like everyone else.

And it’s true that the use of mobile ordering might be a way to ensure your drink is accurate. After all, there is less chance the phone will misinterpret your order than the person standing behind the register.

Now, let’s talk about that quick afternoon pick-me-up you need. It’s off-hours and you’re in a hurry, so you’re encouraged to see there’s no one else in the cafe. You cockily think to yourself “this will be a quick in-and-out purchase.” Wrong. Mr. High-Tech was able to order his specialty concoction by phone and his drink is being made before yours. And now you’re left waiting five more minutes.

What if you want to order off the “secret menu“? Will the new mobile ordering menu allow you to do order the super secret Captain Crunch Frappuccino?

The prospect of a new online ordering service does have several pluses. Obviously, convenience, but also for its ability to allow baristas more time with our drinks.

If everyone uses the new service to place orders, then there’s less time a barista is behind the register, which means he or she could be honing their drink making skills. Not only could we get beautiful pictures in our lattes, we could also benefit from a less-burnt batch of blonde roast. Score!

While Starbucks continues to work on online ordering, we’ll continue to wait in line with the rest of the world’s coffee drinkers. But hey, we can still pay with our Starbucks app and then decide an hour and a half later if that drink was truly worth a tip.

Starbucks Plans to Test Mobile Ordering This Year [Bloomberg]

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  1. JoeBlow says:

    First of all, there’s no secret menu. There are regular menu items, and there are syrups and other items that can be combined. If you go in and ask for something with a ridiculous name, you should have the recipe to back it up, because starbucks doesn’t have it on the menu.

    Second, the article you link specifies that Starbucks hasn’t provided any details about this pre-ordering. They haven’t said that you would be ordering from outside of the store, or that your coffee will be waiting for you. They haven’t said that you’ll be jumping the line. For all we know at this point, it could just be a feature of the app so you can configure your order ahead of time, so it can be scanned in at the register without needing a whole lot of follow up questions at the counter. “You ordered soy, did you want whipped cream anyway?” “Should I leave a little room for milk?” “Was that iced coffee sweetened or unsweetened?” You could have a couple of your usual drinks configured, like a soy Venti Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and x number of shots. Have your order scanned, and maybe the register could even print out a label. I know this would save a ton of register time for people making coffee runs. The person doing the run has a stupid written note of 10 drinks, each of which has to be read to the person at the register, each of which has these follow up questions, and between which, the person on the register has to writ it down in the little boxes on the cups. Obviously this wouldn’t speed up the fact that 10 drinks still have to be made, but its less time in line.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Yep, like I said when they first blogged about this, the main things I like about this idea are 1) I don’t have to stand there and ask for something, as I am a misanthrope and prefer to limit my contact with actual, live human beings, 2) I don’t have to worry about them mishearing or mistyping or just not entering something, it’s all there in red, green, and blue (the new black & white, don’t you know?), and 3), I know they’ll get my name right if I can TYPE IT IN.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      If it works like Chipotle’s ordering you don’t have to stand in line. You call it in and then pick it up and pay. I think it’s great. Shortens the line. I’d assume you’d pay for it in-app, so the cashier isn’t even tied up. It’s not like you’re adding an extra order because you’d still be standing in line and ordering if you didn’t have the app anyway. I’m all for it.

  2. xvdgry57 says:

    There were these automated diners called “automats” where the customer would see a large wall of small glass doors with fresh prepared food behind them that could be opened with money like a vending machine. ZERO employee-customer interaction.

    Have Starbucks Express customers install an app to order and pre-pay. On arrival the app would use wifi to sense you are ay the Starbucks location and the compartment with your order would blink or beep or anything to get your attention but not inspire rage.
    On the app you tell it to open the door so you can get your order.