Starbucks is now testing delivery -- but there's a huge catch

Seattle Starbucks customers can now use their phones to get coffee delivered wherever they are.

Seattle is collaborating with delivery app service Postmates on a pilot program that allows customers to have Starbucks food or beverages delivered to them within select parts of Seattle. Customers order through Starbucks’ app, using the Mobile Order and Pay feature.

However, there is one big catch in the delivery plan. The service cost will start at $5.99 for the cheapest cup of coffee. And, that’s before you factor in the tip.

Delivery fees at Postmates start at $5, with an added 9% service fee. For inexpensive fast-food and coffee chains, that means paying the delivery fee often just doesn’t make sense, except when ordering for a large group.

When ordering delivery, customers are currently given a one hour delivery window, though Starbucks says most orders will arrive in less than 30 minutes.

“Our customers are highly engaged with Mobile Order and Pay, placing five million transactions a month, so delivery becomes a natural extension that provides another easy and convenient way to meet them where they are in their day,” Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman said in a statement.

Starbucks mobile orderStarbucks, via The Motley FoolStarbucks mobile order and pay.

While Postmates has partnered with chains including McDonald’s and Chipotle in delivery tests, the Starbucks collaboration is unique in that customers order from the Starbucks app, not the Postmates app or website.

Postmates’ delivery system utilises couriers who, when notified of a new delivery, are dispatched to the closest location of the restaurant or chain. At Starbucks, couriers are allowed to skip the line to pick up delivery orders. They then bring the food and beverages to the customer, who has already paid using the app.

By building delivery into the company’s mobile app, Starbucks enables customer access to customisation options and the ability to earn stars and rewards through the coffee chain’s loyalty program.

The test will start in downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, Madison Park and the Sodo area.

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