Starbucks is expanding its mobile ordering capabilities to include voice ordering within its iOS app and on Amazon's Alexa platform, which is primarily accessed through the Echo smart speaker.
The voice ordering features act as an extension of Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay, which enables customers to place orders and pay for drinks and food prior to arriving at their coffee shop, and extends the barista/customer interaction into the digital ecosystem.
Select customers will now be able to order coffee with voice commands using 'My Starbucks Barista' on iOS, a conversational interface that is being integrated into the latest update for Apple devices. At the same time, a Starbucks Reorder Skill is being added to Alexa, enabling customers to order their favourite beverage by simply using their voice.
"The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility," said Gerri Martin-Flickinger, chief technology officer at Starbucks. "Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability.
"These initial releases are easy to use, providing a direct benefit to customers within their daily routine and we are confident that this is the right next step in creating convenient moments to complement our more immersive formats. We expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them over time."
My Starbucks Barista was previously announced at Starbucks' Investor Day event, and is an AI-powered messaging interface designed to enable customers to interact with the Starbucks app as if they were dealing with a real-life barista, either via text or, thanks to this latest innovation, voice. The feature enables customers to modify their beverage to meet their personal preferences, as well as order and pay for food in a more natural way.
My Starbucks Barista is currently being beta tested by 1,000 customers nationwide, with a continued phased rollout planned through summer 2017, along with a version for the Android app later this year.
The Starbucks Reorder Skill for Alexa also leverages Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay technology, enabling customers to order their 'usual' food and drink items simply by saying "Alexa, order my Starbucks" within listening distance of an Alexa-equipped device such as the Amazon Echo smart speaker.
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