Mobile Commerce

The Virtual Barista Is In: Starbucks’ Chatbot

A chatbot is on the horizon for regular users of the Starbucks mobile app.

Called My Starbucks Barista, the new technology’s announcement came out during an event for investors where current and future CEOs of the firm, Howard Schultz and Kevin Johnson, outlined the company’s five-year growth plan.

During the investor event, Starbucks premiered a demo video of the technology, with a customer speaking into the phone to interact with a chatbot that asked contextual follow-up questions. The bot was shown to be on top of a complicated order that included items such as “double upside-down macchiato half-decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup.” The bot drew applause from the audience as its voice recognition technology was able to keep pace with all of that.

“You didn’t think we could just order a latte, right?” said Gerri Martin-Flickinger, the company’s chief technology officer. “What you saw there is completely real.”

Starbucks has long been an enthusiast of getting in on the cutting edge of technology that makes it easier for customer to interact with them via their phone. As of today, Starbucks has signed on 12 million Rewards members, an 18 percent pickup from last year. It also has a total of 8 million customer migrated to mobile payments and a full third using mobile order and pay technology so that their food and drinks are paid for and ready to go as soon as they arrive at their pickup location.

Johnson said during his comments that Starbucks sees an opportunity now to expand mobile order and pay beyond its company-owned stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. — currently representing about 40 percent of its global footprint — to the company’s licensed stores and to other markets around the world.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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