starbucksiphoneEver wish it was possible to skip the line at Starbucks by punching in an order through the company’s smartphone app? It’s coming soon.

Adam Brotman, Starbucks’s Chief Digital Officer, told Bloomberg that the company is “actively working” on making mobile ordering a reality. According to Brotman, it’s one of the features the company’s customers request the most. The feature will allow users to order drinks and food while they’re inside a Starbucks, or when they’re on their way to get coffee, so they can beat the lines.

Starbucks announced yesterday that it plans to update its mobile app to allow users who pay with their smartphones to tip the barista using the same method. These new moves in the mobile space are being overseen by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who handed the day-to-day operations of the company to Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead so that Schultz could work on “next-generation” technologies.

Mobile ordering has already been proven in the fast food space, with companies like Chipotle offering customers the ability to walk in and pick up their food without having to wait in line. But it could prove tougher at Starbucks, which is known for letting its customers customize their drinks.

After all, while it’s easy enough for a human to understand an order for a Grande half-caf, half soy Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream and two pumps of caramel syrup, building all of those special order functions into a mobile app could prove difficult. As anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time inside a Starbucks during the morning rush can tell you, everyone is very serious about ensuring they get the right order.

Adding a smartphone ordering system to that mix could prove problematic, unless Starbucks gets it exactly right.

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  • philhayford

    Starbucks tried this in a test market in Denver around ~2002-3. Customers who used it loved it, but it caused operational issues and customer feedback (“how did that guy skip me in line?) that weren’t easy to overcome. Glad they are trying it again – I hope it works this time.

    • mike

      I can totally see where customers being skipped in line would be angered. I also love that they are taking advantage of the pre-order concept, Zeeks does this online ordering on their site, love it.

  • Smash

    Yes, please. It’s an idea whose time has come. I’d love to order my drink right before my subway enters the tunnel and 6 minutes later once I’ve emerged from my destination station, walk into the nearest Starbucks, claim my drink, and go about my day. And the custom ordering thing is easy to solve: just let people create their own custom favorites. I’m sure Starbucks employs better app designers than bloggers at GeekWire and will have figured this out.

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