Starbucks® – A Digital Brewery Of Conventional Coffee

It was a long tiring day. You are seated at your regular corner place of the Starbucks store in the company of your usual double shot extra hot cappuccino. As a coffee connoisseur, you indulge in the divine invigorating aroma of freshly brewed beans artistically served with a perfectly balanced mellowing taste. your mind starts racing with zillions of thoughts and for a fraction of second you wonder what made this cup of Starbucks coffee a little more special and personal.

Freeze this frame right there while I steer you through the flashback with a voice over about what was happening since a few moments before this scene. To make it more technical, I give you the breakdown of digital flywheel of the coffee giant that kept rolling to simulate a strong human connection into the coffee that you are served with.

Roast Data and Grind Analytics

What triggered the journey of your coffee quest? a simple text message from Starbucks that says, “Come relish that usual classic handcrafted cappuccino of yours at 10% off valid only for today”. Your eyes blink with content and you say out loud, ” the timing is impeccable”. you just have to dwell one more level deeper to crack this targeted marketing.

Starbucks’s humungous data from its mobile app analyses the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ of your purchase history and sends out a mail or message with a tailor-made offer just for you. what’s more, say you usually make the same Starbucks order most days, at around the same time. A store’s point-of-sales system can detect the proximity of your smartphone, and provide the barista(waiter) with that information. One classic illustration of technology woven human connection.

Don’t Dread – Order Ahead

Your adept fingers launch the twin-tailed mermaid’s mobile order and pay feature on your Swift 4G enabled smart phone. Thanks to Amazon Alexa. You play along with a virtual “Barista” and voila, your yearning for coffee is now gratified with few simple voice instructions in plain English. You could also see those dazzling reward stars updated accordingly when you pay, climbing you up the ladder of privilege. You now know when and where to collect your order. So, keep calm and head on as you await a prompt notification guaranteeing your order is ready. Your mind makes a logical reference to one of the newsfeeds in your memory — “Starbucks engaging more Baristas to handle high volume mobile orders” to calm your qualms in advance.

ATLAS – A Geeky data wizard

Your eyes rest on the beacons pointing out the clustered Starbucks stores nearby. Having tasted the digital disruption capabilities of Starbucks, your brain mines this cartographic guide for any relevance/pattern/strategy in the placement of its stores around your work space, high visibility locations near downtown and other strategic locations. Yes, you got it right this time.

The digital retail exemplar employs ATLAS, a mapping and BI platform developed by ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute), which is a geographic Information system(GIS) software company. Data acquired from ATLAS, is analysed on humongous factors like traffic patterns, population density and average income levels. This goes as input for R programming, that builds machine learning models that suggests an optimal and economically profitable location for a store.

Hang on. You are now back tracking why Starbucks is provoking you for a hot beverage today. Quite simple, your city has an imminent snow storm predicted. ATLAS is again an intelligent entity that also captures weather conditions, consumption patterns and local events information and bingo, that is precisely how this master piece comes up with customized menus based on the aforementioned factors. Do you now know why alcohol is available on the evening menus of only few stores? Trust me, it is definitely not a random decision.

Integration – The New Whipped cream

Now that your aesthetic and culinary senses are satiated as you sip through coffee nirvana, you put your left brain to use by surfing through the Starbucks digital network (remember the wifi is free) to fill yourself with hand-picked premium news with local insight (courtesy of YAHOO and Patch) and with a kickass edsheeran’s latest number in the background for a rich digital musical experience (listenership with Spotify).

As you are about to step out, you wish to make that business rendezvous more personal and hence schedule your tomorrow’s meeting at the nearby Starbucks store next to your work space using the alluring Microsoft outlook Starbucks plugin’s “Meet at Starbucks” button with a witty smile. What a bliss to be alive in this digital era, you think to yourself.

Our digital strategist is thus changing the world, one person, one coffee and one neighbourhood at a time.

Adios Amigos

P.S. Not all features are available in every Starbucks store yet. They are spread across multiple geographical locations and I have integrated them to depict a more promising use case.


by Praveena Kamisetty
Associate Quality Assurance Lead