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Starbucks' CTO brews personalised experiences

Clint Boulton | April 4, 2016
Using data collected from millions of weekly transactions, Starbucks plans to provide more personalised service to its mobile app and loyalty reward users.

Innovative retailers with strong digital track records tend to have more latitude than other companies to try new things. But some think Starbucks might be better served bringing its sophisticated technology to bear in other ways.

Forrester Research retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru was less than enthused about Starbucks' plans, telling CIO.com via email: "I'd rather have a mechanism to give feedback when the Starbucks espresso machine is broken or the store isn't open on time, which has happened to me twice when traveling." She also says Starbucks may be better off creating a service that text messages users of the mobile order and pay feature to alert them when they're order is ready.

Upgrades to mobile app on the way

Mobile order and pay, which logged more than 7 million transactions in the past month, was arguably the company's surprise technology breakthrough in 2015, inspiring more stickiness for mobile app that has already has 17 million users globally.

Next month Starbucks is updating its mobile app to include personalized recommendations, offering discounts or rewards points for items that consumers have purchased in the past, as well as Moreover, consumers will now be able to redeem loyalty rewards via mobile order and pay. Johnson says the company will launch upgrades to its mobile app and loyalty program on April 12. "Clearly, technology is playing a bigger role at Starbucks," says Johnson.

The meeting was something of a coming-out party for Martin-Flickinger, who joined Starbucks in November after refashioning Adobe as a maker of cloud software. To get acclimated to her new role, she worked behind the counters at some stores, and learned how the company upgrades and recalibrates its warming ovens and coffee machines over the Internet.

“Today’s retail store is becoming hyper-connected in a way we’ve never seen before,” she says.

 

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