American coffee chain, Starbucks, has today revealed the latest in virtual coffee ordering technology in the shape of the “My Starbucks barista.” The technology represents a marriage of the existing Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay technology combined with Amazon Alexa technology, which the coffee chain says will, “further [extend] the barista and customer interaction within the company’s digital ecosystem.” The service is being trialed by around a thousand iPhone Starbucks app customers at the same time as the launch of a Starbucks Reorder Skill for the Amazon Alexa devices. These two features allow customers to order and pay for their Starbucks before arriving at the store and use Starbucks’ state-of-the-art artificially intelligent ordering software.
For the mobile application, the technology allows customers to either text or speak their orders, which can be both long and sophisticated, as though speaking to a real barista. The service confirms the order and asks relevant questions, such as the size of ordered beverages, before reporting the total and how long it will take to be prepared. For the Amazon Alexa platform, the Starbucks Reorder Skill works in conjunction with Starbucks’ existing Mobile Order & Pay technology. Again, this allows customers to order their usual food and drinks via their Amazon Alexa device, which is smart enough to recognize what the customer tends to have depending on the time of day.
Starbucks’ Chief Technology Officer, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, explained: “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.” He highlighted that the Starbucks development team concentrated on ensuring that the Starbucks voice ordering service offers a personal and easy to use service. However, he went on to say that the company, “…expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them over time.” The company will be rolling out the service to Android and other customers over the summer of 2017. The coffee chain is in a great position to experiment with new technologies such as this one as it has the most successful mobile ecosystems of any retailer in the world thanks to its Starbucks Rewards scheme and the ability to pay at the till using a smartphone. Currently, more than one in four transactions is conducted using the Starbucks app and the transactions completed using the Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay add up to over 7% of company-owned US stores.