Starbucks just revealed how it plans to fix its crisis of long lines in stores

Howard schultz starbucks
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Stephen Brashear / Stringer / Getty Images

Starbucks stores are being inundated with mobile orders, and that’s drastically slowing down service and alienating customers.

At a UBS conference this week, company executives revealed how they plan to fix the problem.

In the near-term, their solutions include adding more employees to stores to handle the influx of orders, UBS restaurant analyst Dennis Geiger said on a call with reporters following the conference.

Starbucks also plans to make some small tweaks to the store layout to free up more space around the pickup counter.

In the longer term, Starbucks is considering more drastic measures, including a complete reconfiguration of the store that would make room for two separate lines: one for in-store orders, and another for mobile orders, Geiger said.

To free up space, the company is considering removing most of the merchandise like mugs from the stores, and instead selling those products online.

A Starbucks store in Richmond, Virginia recently started using neon tape to separate in-store orders and mobile orders. Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Starbucks executives also discussed the possibility of adding cubbies to stores where customers would pick up their orders.

The longer-term fixes would likely be implemented within one to two years, Geiger said.

Starbucks revealed its issues with slowing service in January, after reporting that quarterly same-store transactions, a measure of customer traffic, dropped 2%.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz blamed the drop in transactions on congestion from the popularity of mobile orders.

“We are facing this congestion problem and the anxiety of the customer,” he said on CNBC in January. “It is a problem that we will solve. It won’t take us that long. We have been on it now for 30 days, and in the quarters that follow we will get back to the experience that you have come to expect.”

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