The CaaS (Coffee-as-a-Service) Experience

Image result for starbucks logo png

For the 2nd post in my “Experience Blog” series, I thought I would provide a commentary on what I like to call the CaaS (Coffee-as-a-Service) Experience.  Starting back at the beginning, the earliest I can remember that coffee became a ‘thing’ was 1996.  It was right when I got out of college that the Frappuccino became mainstream and Starbucks surpassed 1,000 stores.  Low and behold, coffee and all of its many derivations became a must-have.  Whether it was for studying, going to work, relaxing, socializing- we all had that white and green cup in our hand at some point during the day.

For me, the most interesting inflection point was in 2014- which was the advent of Starbucks mobile ordering.  I dabbled a bit in the beginning as a novelty, but little did I know- this would eventually be something that I could not live without.  With mobile ordering, I came to realize that there was no longer a need to ever stand in a Starbucks line again.  And yes, I’m guilty of ordering via the mobile app not just for coffee-on-the-go, but also when I’m sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop for hours.  I have banished Starbucks lines forever. 

But where the Starbucks mobile app drives the most value for me is when I have a morning drive for work during the week.  The routine goes as follows…  Get ready, pack up the car, order Starbucks on mobile app, open/close garage door, drive directly to closest Starbucks (without passing Go) -> Grande Americano and Spinach Feta Wrap in hand.  I honestly don’t even consciously think about this process anymore.  This is what I’d consider a moderately healthy breakfast and a guaranteed caffeine pick me up, all with virtually no effort other than a couple clicks.

In Conclusion:  Starbucks has 100% Nailed the Digital Customer Experience with their Mobile App.

So let’s look at the facts.  This is undoubtedly a priority for Starbucks, and CEO Kevin Johnson is trying to drive more of the business to the Starbucks app.  As of the end of 2018, 12 percent of Starbucks’ total sales came in through its mobile ordering features, according to the latest edition of the PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker.  Clearly room to grow, but a solid footing with only 4 years under their belt.  What an interesting example of a physical store with a physical product, making a successful transformation to a digital business.

But if having your coffee waiting for you at your local Starbucks isn’t good enough, it appears as though consumers are looking for an even more effortless experience.  Coffee delivery.  As of this January, Starbucks has joined efforts with Uber Eats to bring delivery services to U.S. cities.  The two firms piloted the delivery program, starting last fall in Miami. As of January 22nd, Starbucks delivery was officially up and running in San Francisco. From there, delivery services via Uber Eats are rolling out in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., and a London pilot is also in the pipeline.  In order to accomplish delivery, Starbucks is being seamlessly integrated into the Uber Eats mobile app, and deliveries are supposed to arrive warm within the half-hour.

And with a look into the future..  believe it or not, coffee is actually being delivered via drone (what?!!!) in Australia. Yes, Alphabet Inc.’s subsidiary Wing, whose most recent trial delivered coffee to 160 households in Canberra, Australia.  Coffee is popular among Wing’s Canberra customers, says Wing CEO James Burgess. It’s not an item typically delivered by car because of how quickly it gets cold. “Our record is 3 minutes and 17 seconds from an order to coffee in hand,” he adds. (The coffee travels in a normal to-go cup and is protected by a recyclable paper cocoon.)


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