Starbucks expands sales-boosting Mobile Order & Pay across U.S.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Tuesday said its sales-boosting Mobile Order & Pay service is now available in all of its nearly 7,500 U.S. company-operated shops, a nationwide roll-out completed about three months ahead of schedule.

The expansion includes some 3,400 cafes - including those in major cities such as San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. - and extends the service to Android mobile device users.

Mobile Order & Pay is a feature on the Starbucks app, which the company says has 16 million active users on Apple and Android devices in the United States. Up until now, the app could only be used in-store to pay for a purchase. The new service allows users to place orders and pay for them from a remote location, and then pick up the order at the store.

Adam Brotman, Starbucks’ chief digital officer, said the coffee chain refined a variety of features before the expansion. Those help customers customize food and beverage orders, check local inventories for the availability of product and accurately calculate pick-up times.

“We’re hearing (from users) that is creating a whole bunch of new occasions” to visit Starbucks, Brotman said. In particular, he said, it makes it easier for time-crunched workers and parents to drop in and for speech- and hearing-impaired customers to customize orders.

Starbucks, which declined to say how much the new feature has increased sales, plans to introduce it in select company-owned stores in the United Kingdom and Canada in October, Brotman said. Licensed stores in places such as restaurants, hotels and transit stations in the United States and elsewhere will follow.

At the end of the latest quarter, Starbucks had 7,457 company-operated stores in the United States, as well as 1,006 in Canada and 476 in the United Kingdom.

It had 4,888 licensed stores in the United States.

Starbucks tested Mobile Order & Pay in Portland, Oregon, last December. It released it across the Pacific Northwest in March and gradually expanded its reach.

In July, Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said Mobile Order & Pay was bolstering sales and profit at the roughly 4,000 U.S. cafes where it was available. He said the technology had the potential to lure customers who may have been turned off by long lines and waiting times.

“Lines are shorter, service is faster and in-store operations are more efficient” at cafes where the service is available, Schultz said at the time.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby