Mobile orders brewing at Starbucks

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Want to order your coffee before you get to Starbucks? It might happen. Whether it will shorten your wait and still deliver hot coffee is open to debate.

CEO Howard Schultz, in a conference call Wednesday, said the company is working on a system that will let customers place orders through Starbucks’s mobile app and pick them up later, reports.

I can tell you that we understand the value that that will create for our customer base, Schultz said in reply to a question on the company’s conference call. He added, You can assume that over time we will lead in this area.

Starbucks says 10 million customers already use the mobile app to pay for orders.

Questions abound about how Starbucks will handle filling the mobile orders and those from people who walk up to the counter. Will mobile orders be treated like a fast pass at an amusement park, entitling a customer to walk to the head of the line? I can’t see that going over well when people are waiting for a morning fix. Maybe Starbucks will create two counters: One for people who have a smartphone and another for the have-nots.

It will be a tricky balancing act, Richard Larson, Mitsui professor of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says in a report by There’s a risk of [orders] not being ready or cold.

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