Starbucks Could Be Laying The Groundwork For The Next Generation Of Ordering


Photo: Nicholas Smale/Flickr

Soon, you might be able to order Starbucks in advance and pick it up in stores. The coffee chain is building more drive-thrus with deeper motives than competing with McDonald’s or Wendy’s, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions. 

“Starbucks intends to lay the groundwork to tap into the next round of technological innovation from inside the automobile (and who knows, maybe prepare for an iCar),” Sozzi said in a note to clients. 

About 60 per cent of the new stores opening in 2013 will have drive-thrus, the coffee chain said in an earnings call last week. Only one-third of existing Starbucks stores have one. 

New technologies could make ordering seamless, according to Sozzi. 

“Obviously Microsoft’s Sync in-car technology pioneered, but in many respects it has been surpassed by newer offerings in luxury autos,” he said. “Over the next few years, these in-car touchscreen control panels are very likely to include capabilities to order food items from local chain establishments that boast drive-thrus.”

Both consumer and business would benefit from the ordering system. 

“You love it as it saves a precious 10 minutes, Starbucks loves it because it facilities store level efficiency and impulse purchases,” Sozzi wrote. “Plus, think of the integration potential of Starbucks’s mobile app with an in-car device; the company can send special promotions when you may not even be pondering a coffee purchase.”

Sozzi also cited Starbucks’ collaboration with mobile payment platform Square as evidence that it intends to integrate payment and order processes. 

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