Starbucks customers get voice ordering as mobile orders and payments continue to grow

Starbucks Barista
COFFEE MATE: Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay now incorporates a voice ordering feature

US consumers can now place orders from coffee giant Starbucks by speaking into the Starbucks iOS mobile app or to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. The move comes as the company reveals that mobile orders made up 7% of all its US transactions in the last quarter, with mobile payments now accounting for 27%.

“Mobile Order & Pay had a banner quarter, representing more than 7% of total transactions — double the figure from Q1 last year,” Starbucks’ Kevin Johnson told investors during the company’s first quarter earnings call. “We now have nearly 1,200 stores with 20% or more Mobile Order & Pay transactions at peak compared to only 13 stores one year ago.”

Chinese internet giant Tencent’s WeChat Pay mobile payments platform now also represents 20% of total transactions in China, Johnson added, following its launch across 2,500 Starbucks locations in December 2016.

The My Starbucks Barista voice-activated feature is being added to Mobile Order & Pay and is currently available in beta for 1,000 customers ahead of a phased rollout this summer. The Starbucks Reorder Skill for Alexa is also being enabled through Mobile Order & Pay and lets customers make reorders wherever they have an Alexa device.

“My Starbucks Barista is powered by groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Starbucks mobile app,” the company says. “The integration of the feature within the mobile app allows customers to order and pay for their food and beverage items simply by using their voice.

“The messaging interface allows customers to speak or text just as if they were talking to a barista in-store, including modifying their beverage to meet their personal preference.”

A video gives an overview of the My Starbucks Barista feature:

“Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability,” says Gerri Martin-Flickinger, chief technology officer for Starbucks. “We expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them over time.”