Starbucks is trying to make it as easy as possible for its digital customers to drink up. The chain on Monday began testing My Starbucks barista, a platform that lets customers order by voice through their phones, pay remotely, then swing by a store to pick them up, reports the Seattle Times. It works via Amazon's Alexa or through the company's iOS app. With Alexa, customers will say, "Alexa, order my Starbucks," and the "usual" order will be placed. With the iPhone, customers will dictate their orders to the app. The beta launch is for only 1,000 customers nationwide, but the program will expand to a wider audience through the summer, then bring Android users on board later this year.
Starbucks wants to offer “a very seamless digital experience where it is still customer-first, experience-first, where you don’t have to think about it,” says the company’s chief tech officer. Voice-ordering marks Starbucks’ latest digital move, building on the success of its existing mobile app, which already includes order and pay features. Customers have shown they’re into it, with those transactions accounting for 7% of the company’s US business in the latest quarter, per Fortune. And the company is expecting digital-based revenues to double in five years. But the early success also has had a backlash. Starbucks acknowledged last week the program’s popularity had undermined walk-in sales in some stores, where customers have left without ordering when they saw lines of digital customers—also waiting. The company promises a fix. (Read more Starbucks stories.)