4 Starbucks App Features FIs Need to Borrow ASAP

canstockphoto25824169If you followed the seven-hour biennial Starbucks Investor Day conference (as I am sure most of you did) earlier this month, you got an earful of the latest updates in the Starbucks world, including updates to its ingenious mobile app.

The app, which now has more than 20 million members, and fuels eight million customer checkouts at the point of sale (4Q16), has earned the admiration of many FIs and fintechs. Fairly so, and here are four reasons (read: features) why.  

Loyalty Rewards

You know, those stars you earn for each purchase — and, soon, for merely logging in or paying through the app. While Starbucks has earned millions of app fans largely thanks to the rewards program, banks still do a poor job when it comes to integrating loyalty to their mobile apps, said Dan Van Dyke, analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research firm’s mobile practice sector. “More than half of the top 30 largest banks use some sort of rewards and loyalty programs through their apps, but only about 37% allow you to redeem those in-app,” he told Bank Innovation. “Things like offering coffee coupons for transacting with the app, or cashback, have huge potential of driving mobile adoption.”

Syncing those apps with geolocation would also allow for push reward redemption at the point of sale, just like Starbucks’ ‘what’s playing now’ feature, said Ghela Boskovich, director of global strategic business development at Zafin. “[The feature] would cross promote the FI’s merchant customer offerings, and also offer contactless payment to secure the reward,” she added. “Banks benefit by capturing the payment transaction while also extending their SME customer base via the rewards marketplace. Customers get rewarded for loyalty and SME’s benefit from the bank-as-sales-channel: win-win for everyone.”

Payments and Order Ahead

As its volume of coffee lovers increases, Starbucks found a way for them to cut the line: Mobile Order and Pay, which allows people to swoop in and pick up their coffee, while less tech savvy customers are stuck in line, waiting to pay.

The Mobile Order and Pay feature — which launched a little over a year ago  — represents 6% of all transactions for the coffee giant. That’s 6% added to the app usage. Several banks have already borrowed the feature, allowing customers to order banking services ahead through mobile apps, said Van Dyke. “A lot of the banks allow you to set up appointments on mobile, or take out cash through ATMs,” he said. “But there are many more services that could, and should, be added to this list.”

However, the way customers pay at the POS is worth noting as well. “I recently used a merchant mobile wallet app and had a 33% success rate in implementing,” Van Dyke said. “QR codes, if you don’t implement them right, could be unreliable, even on a good smartphone’s screen. Starbucks did a good job to make sure those work.”

Complete Experience

It’s true, Starbucks does have advanced payments and mobile tech. But it is still, first of all, a retailer — thus all of its tech efforts are aimed at complementing the in-store experience, according to Christopher Danvers, VP of payments and digital services at American Airlines Federal Credit Union.

There’s really only one thing you can’t do via their app, which is actually drink your Latte Macchiato, and that is a good thing. So, I think the learnings for financial institutions is to figure out how to offer a complete experience based on your service offerings and your customers, through their own mobile apps, which also compliment their other delivery channels (call center, branch, etc.),” he told Bank Innovation. Be thoughtful as to when a feature is offered: while Starbucks can control ubiquitous acceptance of their closed loop mobile payments in their stores, FI’s can’t, so what other features might make more sense that the apparent bright shiny object?”

Voice Tech

At the Investor Day earlier this month, Starbucks unveiled a major (trendy?) feature:  My Starbucks Barista, a conversational ordering system – think Siri that can order Starbucks coffee. The feature would allow customers to place orders and pay either via voice commands or through a messaging system. Regarding the voice tech, Capital One seems to be taking the lead so far among the big banks. Last week, the bank announced that it has tested several skills with Microsoft’s Cortana. Earlier this year, CapOne and Amazon teamed up to put the Capital One “Skill” app on the Amazon Echo, allowing customers who have the Echo or Echo Dot (anything with Alexa) access their bank accounts using their voice.

Even though voice technology is not mainstream in the financial world, it’s potential should not be ignored, Van Dyke said. “I am short-term bearish, and on long term bullish on the whole “Voice First” movement,” he said. “Banks definitely should start, if they haven’t yet, looking into integrating voice features into their apps — the way it removes the friction is magical.”

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