Starbucks Mobile Order System Might Be Too Popular, Walk-In Customers Walk Out

Image courtesy of Ron G

Shortcuts are awesome, at least until everyone learns the shortcut and bogs down the process all over again. This is the lesson that Starbucks is learning, after realizing that its mobile order-ahead system might have become a little too popular, possibly hurting sales.

Starbucks began testing the pre-order system back in 2014, allowing customers to place their drink orders before getting to the store, and then skip the line to pick up their coffee.

Problem is, if too many people place pre-orders, the local Starbucks may be overwhelmed trying to keep up. Additionally, customers waiting in line could get frustrated, as their orders are not being taken or made because baristas are swamped tending to the pile of online orders.

Reuters reports that Starbucks is looking at tweaking its online mobile ordering system after some stores had difficulty keeping up with the influx of orders, resulting in lower than expected sales for the last quarter of 2016, as some of those frustrated in-store customers may have walked out or taken their business elsewhere.

During an earnings call Thursday, the company cut its full-year revenue forecast, sending shares down 3.8%.

“We are now laser-focused on fixing this problem, but the nature of it — too much demand — is an operational challenge we have solved before and I can assure you we will solve again,” explained CEO Howard Schultz, who will soon be stepping down.

For now, the company is testing a few options and toying with other ideas to keep things moving, and customers caffeinated.

A rep for the company tells Reuters that it has added one or two more baristas to high traffic stores. These new employees will be focused solely on mobile orders during peak hours.

Other options include reworking routines and testing text notifications that alert customers when their orders are ready for pickup.