Starbucks Vending MachineIt is an ultimate convenience that you can pre-order Starbucks from your phone. Tap your order into your phone, walk in and pick up your beverage. It is paid for and you skip the line. To some operators, I’ll bet this sounds like the perfect set-up…just take the customer’s money and hand them a product.

Starbucks can get away with this because they have 20,000 locations. They’ve established their brand, and can afford to draw from their brand with a system like this. (And, that’s what this does… it pulls from their brand bank account).

When you have 20,000 locations and plenty of collateral in your brand bank, you could consider this approach.

The “a-ha moment” is when you realize this perceived strength is actually a weakness. Starbucks has reduced this customer to a vending machine transaction.

  • Starbucks is missing out on the ability to make meaningful connections with these customers.
  • They’re squandering the time and money they’ve invested in customer service training.
  • They’re losing the chance to suggestively sell something new,
  • Up-sell a perfectly paired pastry or
  • Suggestively sell something new.

While it is neat that Starbucks has this high-tech tool. Remember it was high-touch, not high-tech that made them the brand they are today.