Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) is getting in on the virtual assistant trend by launching a Siri-like assistant app for your mobile device. The unique app lets you bypass baristas. All you have to do is place orders by speaking directly with your phone. If you've ever wanted to skip ahead of the, sometimes, long lines for your favorite brew then this app is for you. It works as an extension of the Mobile and Pay functionality, which Starbucks launched back in 2015. It really is like speaking to a barista in real life.
In fact, you can even change your drink order. In addition, it can also be used to pay for your food and drinks. Who needs a personal assistant when you have this? Moreover, the Starbucks is launching a skill for the Amazon Alexa platform, which lets customers re-order their preferred items just by speaking into either their Echo speaker or other Alexa-supported device. Starbucks did announce its plans to launch a voice assistant at its Investor Day, stating it would arrive to beta testers in the early part of 2017.
How does it work?
Well, it makes use of artificial intelligence to process incoming orders through its messaging interface. Customers can also send the virtual assistant orders via text. The assistant will then confirm the location of your preference and process your payment. How easy is that?
Starbucks CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said, “The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility. Our team is focused on making sure that voice ordering within our app is truly personal.” Right now, the app is in beta testing on iOS. Of course, it should be available on Android later this year. Right now, the "My Starbucks Barista" app is only available to a select group of 1,000 customers in the U.S.
Starbucks isn't the only company investing in voice computing. According to a recent forecast, an estimated 24.5 million voice-first devices are expected to ship in 2017. The leading platforms include Google Home and Amazon's Alexa. Customers are also getting more comfortable with Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri. So, it makes sense for Starbucks to develop their own assistant.
The Company already leads the market with regard to mobile payments and order-ahead. At its Investor Day, the company shared it had 8 million mobile paying customers, with 1 out of 3 using Mobile Order & Pay. The company also said today it has 13 million Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. Within U.S. company-owned stores, Mobile Order & Pay now accounts for more than 7 percent of transactions.