Starbucks App My Cards Screen Coffee giant Starbucks released interesting statistics this week about mobile payment and usage of their stored-value Starbucks card. Here are the highlights I found interesting...

  • They’ve processed over 26 million mobile payments in just under a year of offering them.
  • Customers have added over $110 million to Starbucks cards via the Starbucks mobile apps.
  • A whopping one in four of all transactions Starbucks processes are done so via the stored-value card, including cards stored on the mobile app.
  • Top five cities using the Starbucks app are NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and San Jose.

The experiences customers have at big chains can create expectations about what they’ll find at smaller, independent businesses, too. One of our goals at Change is to empower independent businesses with technology equal to, if not better than, what the big guys are using. I figure if millions of customers find paying with the Starbucks card more convenient, it’s worth exploring why.

For a little perspective, I reached out to my Twitter network to find folks who’ve paid using the Starbucks app to see what they like, what they don’t, and how it affects the point of sale experience. My friends Mike, Jesse, and Patrick offered to help. It wasn’t my intention to only have responses from men — they just happened to answer the call. I’d love to hear about other mobile payment experiences in the comments from anyone with thoughts to share.

What do you like about paying with the Starbucks app as opposed to cash or credit?

Mike: If there’s one thing I’ll never be without, it’s my phone. I’ve left behind my keys, my wallet, ID badges, and more, but my phone is always with me. The question about cash is easy; I rarely carry it. Stopping at an ATM doesn’t fit in with my lifestyle. Also, paying via my phone allows me to keep a closer eye on what I’m spending. I can see account levels drop as soon as the transaction goes through rather than wait a few hours and have to remember to check my account online.

Jesse: Quicker checkout as I get the app ready while in line. I am able to monitor the amount of money I am spending with the manual recharge. I get loyalty point credit which translate to free drinks.

Patrick: I’m not sure if I prefer it. My experience with it hasn’t been amazing, nor has it been terrible. It just works. If I had to pick the main think I like about it, I’d say it’s being able to see the exact current balance in my account before a transaction goes through.

What is the interaction like with the person at the register?

Mike: On one hand I’m done and moving to the next thing quicker, but you also lose a little bit of that intimate moment of having a short conversation with another human being. However, paying via mobile requires less attention from me (swipe your card, enter your PIN, answer a question, confirm you’d like to pay for this), so I can focus more on the person across the counter.

Jesse: Simple. Place order, receive purchase total, hold my phone under the conveniently placed laser reader and refuse receipt if asked.

Patrick: In Cedar Rapids, it’s kind of awkward. They usually don’t have the scanner out on the counter, so I have to tell them I’m paying by phone, and sometimes physically hand it over to them. I think not many people pay by app in Cedar Rapids, because that’s never been a problem in New York or St. Paul.

Jesse's MyCard App

Does having the app make you more likely to pop into a Starbucks now?

Mike: I can truthfully admit that since paying for coffee with my iPhone, I do stop in for drinks much more often. Part of it is the desire for the drink itself, but they’ve also enhanced my overall experience where it’s fun to pay for my coffee. I actually crack a smile each time I wave my phone in front of the scanner and hear the resounding beep confirm my purchase.

Jesse: I am more likely to choose Starbucks due to the loyalty bonus given for using the app purchase.

Patrick: I’d say the opposite. I’m more likely now to see that my balance is low before getting my coffee, and just skip it and wait until after payday to reload.

How does the Starbucks app compare to other mobile payment solutions you’ve tried?

Mike: There aren’t too many other mobile payment services I’ve actually used in the marketplace, but I can say Starbucks has nailed the execution. Their stats prove it. Although it may not be fancy, ground-breaking, or newfangled technology, it just works – and that’s what matters.

The Reverse of Jesse's My Card Tab

Jesse: I like this app compared to other mobile purchasing I have done in the past. It’s very simple to use, it’s easy to add money and it gives clear and instant information about debits, purchases, and balances. I am not ever questioning if the balance the app is telling me is correct. Five seconds after I make a purchase the balance will refresh to the correct amount. Not even my bank is that fast.

Patrick: Google Wallet is pretty awesome just in terms of how seamless it is: tap the phone, put in your pin, tap again, done. I’d use it all the time, but very few places are using it and it doesn’t work with my bank.

What can we learn?

Simplicity, fun, and control are the sentiments that stand out to me from their responses. App or no, making the checkout experience as fast and straightforward as possible seems like a win with customers.

Have you made any purchases with your mobile device? Add a comment and share what it was like.

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AuthorScott Kubie
CategoriesTip Jar