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Starbucks order aheadStarbucks’ new mobile service, which allows customers to buy a cup of coffee from their phone before entering the store, is now live in more than 4,000 of its cafes across the country.

The service, which Starbucks calls Order & Pay, is now live in 21 states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

starbucksIn December, Starbucks launched its first test market in Portland, Ore., but quickly followed up by launching in four more states across the Northwest in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.

Today’s announcement includes another 3,400 stores, bringing mobile ordering to more than half of its company-operated stores in the U.S. (licensed stores found in grocery stores and airports are not included). At this rate, Starbucks will easily reach its goal of being nationwide by the end of the year.

Watching the Seattle coffee chain quickly roll-out a complicated service at such scale is impressive, especially for a coffee company that just happens to use technology to connect with its customers.The company’s most recent metrics tell this story well:

  • Starbucks’ mobile apps have 16 million active users.
  • Starbucks is currently processing over 8 million mobile payment transactions per week.
  • And, mobile payments account for nearly 19 percent of all U.S. transactions.

1_Order_Shade_-_Signed_OutMobile Order & Pay has been in development at Starbucks for years, but only now is rolling out after the retailer tweaked all sorts of elements, from how to keep the coffee hot to how to manage employee workflow. Probably, the biggest catalyst to get to this point today is the proliferation of smartphones among its consumers.

If you haven’t already tried it, mobile ordering is as simple as buying a book on Amazon. If the service is live in your current location, iOS customers will have the the ability to “order” from their regular Starbucks app. That screen brings up big visual pictures of both food and drinks. For returning users, they’ll see their previous order, or they can customize a new drink, down to how many pumps of flavoring you want, and add any additional food items.

The goal of Order & Pay is to two-fold: It offers a new convenience to consumers, but beyond that it could increase the output of each store. In theory, since employees will spend spend less time taking orders, they will be able to spend more time fulfilling orders, which can lead to an increase in sales.

The feature will be available to Android users later this year.

Update: In the original story, Starbucks erroneously included Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota as four states that were getting mobile order and pay. The list above now correctly reflects the states where mobile ordering is live.

Join us today for a live discussion via Periscope with Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman at 11 a.m. Follow @GeekWire on Twitter for details.

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