Starbucks to let you preorder from your iPhone next year

But coffee drinkers who live in Portland, Ore., can already take advantage of Starbucks' Mobile Order & Pay system.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

A new system will let Starbucks customers order and pay before they get to the store. Starbucks

Starbucks customers across the US will be able to place and pay for their orders via an iPhone before they even reach the store.

A new program, called Mobile Order & Pay, has already kicked off in Portand, Ore., on Wednesday as a trial run. And Starbucks said it expects to expand the feature across the country starting in 2015.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company chose Portland for the first test run based on a variety of factors, including number of store locations, the market's willingness to embrace technology and customer loyalty.

The ability to pay for items on the go via your phone has gotten more buzz lately with the introduction of Apple Pay. Apple's mobile payments system lets you pay for an item at a store through an iPhone 6. But Starbucks now takes the concept a step further by letting you both order and pay for your latte or your cranberry muffin all from your iPhone. Your order is then ready and waiting for you when you arrive at the store, saving you the time and hassle of waiting in line for it to be prepped.

In an interview with Bloomberg published in March, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman revealed that the "="" on="" a="" mobile="" ordering="" system"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="2079c12b-b0b5-11e3-a24e-d4ae52e62bcc" slug="starbucks-test-will-let-mobile-users-order-items-ahead-of-time" link-text="coffee chain was " section="news" title="Starbucks test will let mobile users order items ahead of time" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"7cde7914-0e55-4e56-b819-cdfe40ada6c1","slug":"everything-you-want-to-know-about-apple-pay","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"mobile"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Tech^Mobile","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> . At the time, Brotman said that more than 11 percent of the chain's US in-store transactions are conducted through a mobile device and projected that the figure could double in another year. And that figure may be realistic. In October, the company announced that 16 percent of US transactions went through a mobile device, according to Wired.

How does the new feature work?

First, you'll need an iPhone. Yes, the feature supports only the iPhone for now, though Starbucks promises an Android version next year as the service rolls out nationally. Next, you'll need Starbucks' iOS app on your phone and you'll need to sign up for the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program.

Then you'll need to make sure that Starbucks is enabled in your iPhone's Location Services screen so that your phone can find the closest store that offers the mobile ordering feature. To place and pay for your orders, you then go through the following steps (provided by Starbucks [PDF]):

    • Click on the Order option at the top right of the screen.
    • Select the food and beverage items to order: Just as when you're in the store, beverages are customizable, including the option to modify size, number of espresso shots, dairy selections and more.
    • Select the participating store for pick up: Approximate wait times will be viewable on the customer's phone prior to selecting store location. Directions will also be available if needed.
    • Confirm by clicking "order:" At the time of order, payment is made from the customer's registered Starbucks Card.
    • Proceed to the selected Starbucks store to pick up food and beverages: Orders are immediately sent to the selected store where Starbucks baristas will begin preparing the items.

    The pilot program in Portland will help determine the future of the service.

    "While in beta, feedback on mobile ordering is critical to the program's long-term success," the Starbucks rep said. "We will collect feedback from both customers and Starbucks partners (baristas) throughout the pilot to continue to make refinements and enhance the overall experience."

    Updated at 4:40 a.m. PT December 5 with comment from a Starbucks spokesperson.