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Starbucks Introducing a Virtual Barista Chatbot

Tyrone Stewart

Starbucks mobile orderingStarbucks has unveiled its mobile plans for 2017, including a chatbot, social gifting and more, at its biennial investor conference.

Perhaps most notable is My Starbucks Barista, a conversational ordering system on the Starbucks app powered by AI, which enables users of the brand's app to place their orders via voice command or messaging interface. The feature will first roll out to iOS in limited beta in early 2017 and be made available to more iOS and Android users in subsequent releases.

The coffee chain's mobile order and pay checkout process is also set to be expanded with the addition of suggested selling and recommendations – suggesting additional items for a customer’s order – due to roll out early next year.

Also at the conference, Starbucks unveiled a partnership with Chinese internet giant Tencent, which will see it introduce a social gifting feature to instant messenger app WeChat. This will allow customers to select from Starbucks-branded gifts and products and add a personalised message to a friend or family member. Recipients can save the gifts on their WeChat accounts and redeem at Starbucks stores across China.

As part of the tie-up, Starbucks has also introduced the use of WeChat Pay for purchases in its retail stores.

Finally, Starbucks talked figures, claiming it has the ‘largest mobile ecosystem of any retailer in the world’, with 8m customers paying on mobile, a third of whom are using its mobile order & pay system.