Starbucks to test order-ahead app in Portland

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced the test of a mobile order and pay app within its Portland area stores by the end of 2014. The app will enable customers to place orders and pay in advance, and then pick them up at a selected Starbucks location.

After a test run in 150 stores in Portland, the company will roll out the speedy coffee service across the United States, reported Bloomberg.

In the test, Starbucks' order ahead option will only be available to iPhone users, but will roll out to Android phones when the program goes national. Typical wait time for an app order is estimated to take about five minutes to be ready for pickup.

"We do believe that this will increase our sales and will increase the throughput in our stores," Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks, told Bloomberg. "This is the beginning of a national rollout. We feel we're going to be constantly learning and improving how mobile ordering works."

Starbucks said it would test a mobile ordering app back in July, and simultaneously reported that the company's app accounts for about 14 percent of all U.S. transactions. The chain has also recently attracted customers by offering free drinks, food and refills after earning points through its customer loyalty program.

The announcement of the mobile ordering app comes just one day after the company said it would increase starting pay rates in all U.S. markets in January. All baristas and shift supervisors will get raises and cafe workers are entitled to one free food item per shift. The company also loosened its policy on employee tattoos, saying that body art was now allowed minus any markings on faces or throats and barring any hateful comments, swear words or lewd jokes.

It seems Starbucks is attempting to raise the bar in the retail industry when it comes to taking care of its employees. The company also recently announced that it would offer employee tuition reimbursement.

For more:
-See this Starbucks press release
-See this Bloomberg article
-See this Bloomberg article

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