Behind Starbucks’ App

June 28, 2017 in Strategy

Who likes to wait in line? There are lines and there are lines, perhaps some more painful and never-ending than others. For example, the checkout line on a Saturday at Ikea—and some that we tend to tolerate, sometimes even patiently. So why can’t customers seem to do so at Starbucks? If this is a challenge that most brick-and-mortar formats experience, why is the level of patience and tolerance at Starbucks so much lower?

“Instant gratification takes too long.” Carrie Fisher 

Life moves pretty fast, and in an on-demand universe, waiting in line can feel like forever, like life has stopped and that the time spent in line is useless or less valuable. I get that—and with all the technological advancements of today, the drop in our attention span from 12 seconds to 8 might cause an inversely proportional perception that everything is moving slower, reducing, even more, the levels of patience and tolerance.

With the arrival of Starbucks’ online ordering app, customers’ expectations of instant gratification have been redefined, actually raised.

The app is feeding a generation of internet consumers that live in a world of “instant gratification, shorter attention span and quick fixes,” which might be setting the bar for their expectations of Starbucks’ serving model.

On top of that, it doesn’t help at all if you’re standing in line and suddenly someone who has walked in, just like you, sees that the line to order is too long, pulls out the app and places their order online while skipping half the process—ugh! It’s on!

In my view, the solution can’t be measured by the charisma or speed of the baristas. It also might be worth it to remind customers that they are waiting for a handcrafted coffee. The opportunity hides behind the “loss of patience,” which leads to a lack of “deep thinking” and erosion of customer tolerance levels.