What happens when a problem is so good that it becomes bad? Starbucks is trying to figure the answer to that question out as we speak. Mobile ordering and pickup is the direction the service industry has taken but also is headed in more fully.
“The coffee chain’s stores are being inundated with mobile orders, and that’s drastically slowing down service and alienating customers. Same-store transactions, a measure of customer traffic, dropped 2% in the most recent quarter, according to the company.” – Business Insider
So, what happens when mobile ordering overwhelms a store? As mentioned above, it creates a slowed customer experience and same store transactions. What is not mentioned is the length of lines that are increasing, confusion on when pickup orders arrive and who is there in the spots, additional stressors and responsibilities on employees which leads to the drop in the customer experience.
Some stores, such as Starbird Chicken, have taken to a manual workaround by utilizing an app and creating a system that requires a customer’s involvement. “Instead of customers waiting in a long, exhaust fume–filled drive-thru lane, they can place their orders on their phones, drive to Starbird, pull into a parking space, and have their food delivered to their car no more than five minutes after they arrive.” – QSR Magazine This active engagement of customers is one attempt at finding ways to solve problems associated with drive-thru and curbside pickup. It is a direction that the fast casual and fast food industry is moving towards. In the words of Carman Wenkoff, CIO of Subway, “Apps will become a more important part of drive-thru or curbside-pickup ordering going forward,” The utilization of apps to combat this problem is a growing trend.