The latest evidence to show that robots are about to take over isn't inside your smartphone or your laptop: It's in your morning pick-me-up.
Officially called the Digital Flywheel program, the AI links up with Starbucks Rewards members' accounts and uses what is certain to be a combination of very complex algorithms, siren-based sorcery, and customers' insatiable drive for caffeine. The tech will take into account things like order history, the current weather conditions, the time of day, whether it's a weekend or a workday, and even if it's a customer's birthday or not to make drink and food suggestions.
"Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world that connects brand, user and consumer experience between digital mobile and the real world," Brian Solis, principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, told The Street. "They are still pushing forward, rolling out their Digital Flywheel strategy to be more dynamic to further integrate digital and real world."
Additionally, the new technology will allow Starbucks to introduce new ways for its customers to order. Matthew Ryan, global chief strategy officer at Starbucks, said that the chain's mobile app will begin to integrate "real-time triggers and push notifications to engage customers more deeply, building on the momentum that is generating the higher spend per members." In theory, energy-sapped Rewards members could order directly from a push notification or even a text message if they happen to be in the vicinity of a Starbucks.
Starbucks is banking on its mobile customers to keep afloat. Analysts found that walk-in customers currently outnumber people using their phones, but that figure is shifting. For almost two years, mobile ordering has been rising and analysts predict that it won't be slowing down anytime soon. So, using the AI to reach out to customers in a new way is a smart move for Starbucks. The new tech can be a catalyst for spontaneous coffee runs and have customers adding snacks and food they otherwise wouldn't consider.
"Mobile is one of many promises in which Starbucks is going to grow," Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan told The Street. "That is because we are on the forefront of a new movement in consumer engagement, which marries mobile, loyalty and sales with AI to deliver extreme personalisation, which Starbucks, is priming itself for and consumers are going to start demanding more."
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