Artificial Intelligence

Will AI Be Starbucks’ Secret Weapon To Driving Sales And Growth?


Starbucks is using AI to reach its customers in new ways and possibly increase its growth and boost sales in the process.

Earlier this month, the company unveiled its plan to use AI and the cloud to deliver on “the future of personalization” during a presentation at Starbucks Investor Day in Manhattan, GeekWire reported.

“I hope you’re convinced we’re continuing to set the bar for digital in brick-and-mortar,” Matt Ryan, Starbucks chief strategy officer, explained after sharing the company’s technology plans. “Our ecosystem of digital propositions for the customer … all operate together as a platform, and it’s that platform that really separates us from the rest of the retail world, which has struggled to be more than bricks and mortar. It gives us the advantage we have moving forward.”

The company’s plan is to use a cloud-based “digital flywheel” to deliver personalized customer experiences across the globe.

By using personalization to drive customer engagement, Starbucks confirmed that all marketing will become more targeted, any screen will become a personal screen and its in-store experiences will also be more personalized.

It’s been a busy few months for the Seattle-based retailer.

Just this month, it was announced that Starbucks joined WeChat’s payments family, which includes other major brands, such as KFC, Disney and fashion retailer Uniqlo, among others.

Now, users of the monolithic Chinese messaging/video chat/social network/shopping/payments app will be able to pay for Starbucks via WeChat’s payments. As of now, well over 300 million users have linked bank cards with WeChat or QQ, another Tencent service, said Bloomberg.

Starbucks customers can now use WeChat Pay at the nearly 2,500 Starbucks locations across China. The company also has plans to cooperate with WeChat to create an integrated social gifting feature on the app, which will allow Chinese users to instantly gift Starbucks to their WeChat contacts.

The global caffeine giant further plans to expand the number of Starbucks locations in mainland China by a whopping 5,000 in the next five years (which is like … 2.7 new stores per day) as part of a 12,000-store worldwide expansion effort.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. In the November 2019 Mobile Order-Ahead Report, PYMNTS talks with Dan Wheeler, Wahlburgers’ SVP, on how the QSR balances security and seamlessness to secure its recently launched WahlClub loyalty program.

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