Starbucks Launches Mobile Ordering System in Portland

The coffee giant's iPhone ordering system is rolling out in Portland starting today.

By Marty Patail December 3, 2014

Starting today, Starbucks customers can order their Triple Skinny Mocha Frappucino using their iPhones. An extension of the existing Starbucks mobile app, the feature also enables customers to select nearby Starbucks locations using GPS, save frequent orders, pay from their phones, and—most importantly—skip the lines. 

Portland will be the first city to get the feature. 

"It's great for customers because it's more convenient, and it saves them some time," says Starbucks' chief digital officer Adam Brotman, who was on hand this morning at the chain's Brewery Blocks location. "You get a jump on their day, get to spend ten more minutes walking your dog in the morning because you can just order ahead."

"And for the stores," Brotman adds, "it's actually taking the pinch point of ordering and payment out of the POS and putting it in your hand, which will help drive additional capacity and velocity and throughput of the stores."

The initiative is part of a larger digital shift for the coffee giant: a third of all transactions in stores are made using reloadable cards and gift cards, a quarter are made using the loyalty program, and the existing mobile app already has 12 million active users, according to Brotman. 

The mobile ordering system will roll out to additional (undisclosed) cities beginning early 2015, and will eventually launch nationwide. In the meantime, according to Brotman, the Seattle-based company will use its 152 locations across the Portland area as a test market, gauging the app's ease of use, its effect on in-store wait times, and, of course, how luddite customers standing biding their time in line feel about being "cut."

"Portland is obviously close to our hometown of Seattle. It's got the right mix of stores: urban, suburban, drive-thrus, non-drive thrus. The customers in Portland have good taste and are tech-savvy. It's the perfect city to launch in," says Brotman.

An Android version is currently in the works, but will not be released until early 2015. New iPhone users can download the Starbucks app at the iTunes Stores, and existing users need to update the app to see the ordering screen. 

How does the app work?  Check our slide show above for a quick walkthrough.

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