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Making Customers H-app-y: How Starbucks Builds Brand Loyalty with Technology

Jennifer Conklin • December 3, 2015

By Jennifer Conklin, Senior Account Manager

coffee heart

I don’t think I’m alone when I say this: I’m guilty of spending too much money on coffee. But what I may even spend more on is the time it takes me to get my daily cup (or two) of joe. Driving or walking to the coffee shop, standing in line, giving my order, waiting for the barista to make it, and patiently standing there until she calls my name when it’s ready, all takes up valuable time, especially when I’m in a rush to get into the office, but still desperately need my morning latte!

Well Starbucks, understanding the behaviors and also the wants and needs of their customers, developed a solution to remove some of the inconveniences that may come with getting a coffee at one of their stores. For a few months now, the Starbucks app – which, personally, has more than tripled by my annual spend on coffee with their alluring My Starbucks Rewards program – has been accepting online orders through a new feature called Mobile Order & Pay. This feature enables customers to place and pay for their orders on their Android or iPhone devices in advance of their visit, and pick it up at a Starbucks location. I now place my order on my train to work five minutes before pulling into the station, go pick up my coffee at the barista station, and continue straight to my office – no line, no wait, and most importantly, no missed meetings!

It’s really quite a simple solution. With over 20 million people already using the app to gather and redeem rewards using the My Starbucks Rewards program, and with 9 million mobile transactions happening each week in US stores, Starbucks knew there would be an audience for their Mobile Order & Pay program. Today’s consumer is always on the go, and maybe a Starbucks customer’s biggest addiction next to coffee is his phone. By having an understanding of what works for their customers, Starbucks developed a solution to help improve on their already working process, pleasing their customers and encouraging them to continue their loyalty.

Mobile Order & Pay not only answers the needs of the customer and improves on the customer experience, but it also lowers congestion in stores (attracting more customers to enter), lessens the chance for error on orders (lowers costs spent on wasted product), and increases sales for Starbucks by encouraging people to purchase when they may have not otherwise (like when I’m running late, and don’t want to stand in line). It’s a win-win for both the customers and the company.

Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay has truly changed the way I, along with millions of other coffee drinkers, experience, buy, and consume the Starbucks brand—and raises the bar for Starbucks’ competitors to answer customer expectations. Because of Starbucks’ easy to use technology, I rarely, if ever, stray from buying my coffee from one of their stores, and from now on, because of the ease and time efficiency of paying ahead with Mobile Order & Pay, I will rarely stand in line for a coffee. This is an important lesson for all retailers. Understand your buyers, develop online features that cater to their needs, and you’ll create h-app-y (pun intended), loyal consumers for life.


Jennifer Conklin is a Senior Account Manager at LYONSCG, bringing over fifteen years of experience to the eCommerce implementation, support and digital strategy teams. Her background is in user experience design and web development. Jennifer graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and resides in Chicago, where she enjoys running, playing with her children, and cheering on the Cubbies.

Jennifer Conklin

About the author

Jennifer Conklin

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