– Source: ZippyCart
Fresh off of the successful roll out of pay-by-mobile versions of their already ubiquitous Starbucks Card in Seattle, San Fransisco, and some Target in-store locations, Starbucks has expanded the service to test stores in one of the top tier coffee drinking markets – New York City.
About 300 corporate locations in New York City proper as well as Long Island are now equipped to process purchases using the electronic app version of the Starbucks Card, instead of its plastic predecessor. Apps are currently available for the iPhone and Blackberry only, as research showed that 71% of Starbucks consumers with smartphones used one or the other.
Starbucks Card Mobile works by creating a digital version of the user’s unique barcode on the phone’s screen, which the user holds up to a scanner at the counter, after the order has been entered. The user’s account is automatically debited for the amount, just like the classic version. However, the app does do a few things that a plastic card can’t. For starters, the digital version allows you to track your balance in real time and refill it whenever it gets low. It can also keep you current with your “My Starbucks Rewards.”
Perhaps the least necessary (but still convenient) feature for New Yorkers is the store locator function (though really, if you need help finding a Starbucks in New York City, it’s probably because your view is being blocked by heavy construction equipment building another Starbucks).
Why the move towards mobile?
“We’re seeing more and more customers using their smartphones as their mobile wallets. We’ve heard from our customers on My Starbucks Idea that they want a faster, more convenient way to pay,” says Brady Brewer, vice president of Starbucks Card and Loyalty (and convenient coffee pun).
Whether it’s online or in pocket, Starbuck’s cards are big business for the coffee chain. Almost 1 in 5 transactions are made using the card (either version) and projections call for one billion dollars to be loaded onto Starbucks cards by the end of the year. That’s the result of a 17% annual increase in card sales and a 59% increase in reload on existing cards.
The electronic version of the card is a continuation of what Brewer calls an expansion of Starbuck’s “digital footprint.” A sensible move considering how strongly Starbucks is already tied to technology as a bastion of hot coffee and free wi-fi, anywhere you go.