Starbucks test will let mobile users order items ahead of time

Rolling out this year, a test at some Starbucks cafes in the US will allow people to order coffee and other goods before or while still in line using their mobile phones.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Some Starbucks customers will be able to order their favorite venti mocha double-shot no-whip before they even reach the counter.

In an interview with Bloomberg published late Wednesday, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said that the coffee chain is "actively working" on mobile ordering. As such, a trial set for this year will see some Starbucks cafes in the US offer customers a type of preordering. Specifically, people will be able use their smartphones to order coffee, food, and other items while still in line or outside the cafe.

Brotman also noted that Starbucks will refresh its iPhone app on March 19 to add barista tipping and a shake-to-pay option. More than 11 percent of the chain's US in-store transactions are now conducted through a mobile device, and Brotman told Bloomberg that figure could double in another year.

But Brotman didn't spill too many beans about the mobile ordering plan.

"It's something our customers have asked for," he said. "We're not revealing a lot of details about it now."

Such an option would certainly speed up service, a boon to Starbucks customers regularly stuck on long lines trying to get their morning dose of java.

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