What’s Wrong with the Starbucks App? [Guest Blog]

I love Starbucks. I’m really not a coffee person; the love developed from the sugar rush and gossip rush that came from drinking Frappucinos with my closest friends. So of course, when the Starbucks app was released, my friends insisted I download it. And like millions of other smartphone owners, I did just that.

But in October of last year, the Starbucks app became far less useful to me.

True, the app is an easy way to keep track of your Starbucks “Stars,” which essentially equal the number of drinks you buy. After enough purchases, you’ve earned yourself Gold Card Membership. This used to mean a lot of wonderful things, such as the following:

  • Free soy milk
  • Free syrups
  • Free drink every 15 stars
  • Free refills on brewed coffee, iced coffee and tea
  • Free tall drink with 1 lb bag of coffee
  • Free birthday drink

Perhaps it was the influx of customers attaining Gold status, or simply part of a broader budget cut, but in October 2012, Starbucks eliminated the free soy milk, free syrup, and free tall beverage with 1 lb. bag of coffee for all Gold Card users. For the soy milk lovers like me, this meant Gold status really lost its luster.  But I acknowledge my issue here lies more with Starbucks business decisions than the Starbucks app.  With that said, the app still has room for improvement.

For starters: I usually spend $5 or less at Starbucks, so I use cash more often than my card; but the only way to get Stars for your purchase is to use a credit card or a gift card that you’ve loaded onto the app. An easy fix would be enabling the user to scan his or her phone.  Scanning before the purchase would charge the drink to the card and add a Star; while scanning after the purchase would add a star only. Without making this adjustment, the Starbucks app is even less convenient than other cafés that use punch-out cards for every drink purchase, regardless of payment type.

Secondly: While the app’s My Drinks feature is cool, it could be fantastic. The Drink Builder feature allows you to customize your drink, from size to syrups. But even after spending time building the Starbucks drink of your dreams, you still have to announce it to the cashier.  So what’s the point?  Imagine how amazing and convenient it would be to build your drink, then scan the drink you made along with your payment scan. No more “Grande Caramel Macchiato with extra Caramel Brulée Sauce and no whipped cream.” Just a quick scan and you’re done. Sounds sweet to me.

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