Starbucks Make Use of Consumer Online Time

Starbucks Offices

According to Ofcom’s most recent Communications Market Report, UK consumers are spending two hours online on their smartphones every day; twice as long as laptops and PC. That’s welcome news to any brand that is taking a mobile first approach and sends out a clear message to others that they need to fall in line.

Yet whilst consumers spend more and more time online, that time is not booked out as a specific internet session. Rather it is a series of spontaneous and small capsules of attention.

For marketers it’s a strange paradox. The best mobile experiences today – in terms of time-spent – don’t come in minutes, or even seconds, they happen as milliseconds – tiny moments as the consumer glances at his phone screen whilst waiting for the bus, filling up downtime with screentime.

The multi-tasking time-poor consumer demands a shorter, more useful mobile experience and brands and retailers are struggling to find ways to satisfy that need.

Could it be that they need to focus on the context of the user?

Given that time and attention is a precious commodity, it follows that saved time from a consumer point of view has a direct relationship with brand loyalty. And that is something that Starbucks implicitly understands.

It’s well documented that of all the mobile money and payments solutions for physical goods, Starbucks’ own proprietary mobile payments system is the most used in the US.   As mobile payment apps like Google Wallet have struggled to gain traction with consumers, the Starbucks mobile payments app stands out with 9 million average weekly transactions accounting for a full 20% of transactions made at the US Starbucks-operated coffee shops.

The payment app captures contact information, providing a route 1 channel for offers and promotions.

And when a brand makes it easy to access loyalty programmes, redeem vouchers and transact they are really removing friction by wrapping the brand experience around the clock – saving the consumer time.

More recently Starbucks has launched its Mobile Order and Pay service where users can order say a Caramel Flan Latte via their mobile phone, pay for it and pick it up as they fly past. The message is clear – it’s the coffee, not the consumer that waits and consumers appreciate it, rewarding the brand with loyalty and providing a measurable uplift in sales – so much so that the brand plans to continue the service roll out throughout its global footprint.

The point is that in designing the Starbucks mobile app around the context of the user, the company has put time at the centre of the user experience. And saving the consumer time has led to loyalty and sales – what brand doesn’t want a double shot of that?

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