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Starbucks: Designing The Perfect Mobile App

On my next radio show, I’ll be discussing the Starbucks Mobile application which garnered the 2012 Mobile Marketer of the Year Award. In my opinion, it’s truly a great mobile application that bridges the marketing gap between online and in-store purchasing.

Features that make the app so successful

  • Usability – the application has a primary navigation bar across the bottom as well as a home screen that clearly displays sections of the app based on the user’s activity. The application has very clear screens with very little clutter – great for someone on the move or with fat fingers.
  • Payment Processing – the application integrates with the iOS Passport App and makes it simple to use for payments. I can also replenish my account by credit card or PayPal directly within the application in a matter of minutes. The application utilizes my current rewards card so it was great that it was backward compatible with the manual card process.
  • Rewards – integrated iTunes rewards with push notifications is a breeze. When I buy enough coffee, I’m offered a song that I can immediately download just by clicking on it. Additionally, the ability to shake the cup with the stars in it was a nice touch!
  • Store Locator – on a recent drive to Florida, I was having issues with Apple and Google maps providing the nearest Starbucks. No worries, the Starbucks app is geo-enabled and I was able to always find the closest Starbucks on the trip.
  • Gifts – I can send a gift directly from the app to anyone by email!
  • Products – whether it’s drinks, coffees or food, the application provides all the information you need on the Starbucks menu.
  • Favorites – you have the ability to save your friend’s favorite drinks. That’s fantastic as a business person who meets at Starbucks!

The Perfect Mobile App

While this is an amazing application for driving additional store traffic and collecting card funds, I do think there are some features that could make the app stronger to drive more online and in-store purchases:

  • Check-Ins – If I could see the Starbucks near me and see if my friends have checked in, it would be amazing. A Foursquare check-in integration would be really helpful. On a weekend, I’d love to just scour the Starbucks stores and go to one that a friend is hanging out in.
  • Social – Surprisingly, the mobile application has no social integrations with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, etc. This would be especially useful for check-ins and gifts. Perhaps a notification directly off of a purchase with the app to tell my friends what Starbucks I’m at!
  • Geofencing – Since the application already has push notifications, why not make me an offer if I’m coming close to a Starbucks?
  • Orders – Since I have my favorite drink and favorite food item already set up in the application, is there really a reason for me to stand in line and order at Starbucks? Why not print out a sticker right at the point of sale that the Barista can pick up and fulfill? They can just call out the name and you can pick up your drink.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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