I am not sure about anyone else, but this mid-semester slump hit a little harder this year than in years past. When that happens, I wade it out a week and then back at it adding the required third cup of coffee late in the day to make through classes. This year’s mid-semester slump I decided to take advantage of my required stop at Starbucks and start to question what other technology are they using through application and in the store?
I will preface this with, that I know we covered Starbucks a few weeks ago with their order ahead or order in-person discussion but did you know that they use technology in every facet of your interaction with Starbucks? I am sure you have thought of it, or assumed they must have, but I will do you one better and share what they are doing every time you order and walk through the door.
A fun fact that I learned, is that Starbucks has partnered with Microsoft to enhance the Starbucks customer experience into a more personal, seamless interaction in all its stores by implementing advanced technologies, ranging from cloud computing to blockchain.
If you want an interesting listen that covers much of what I will highlight below, check out How Starbucks is using AI to improve the customer experience.
- Reinforced Learning Technology – Artificial Intelligence
- Internet of Things (IoT)
First, we all have interreacted with the mobile application, whether us or a friend. But have you noticed that mobile application recommends items to you that compliments your original purchase? That is because they have implemented Deep Brew, an in-house artificial intelligence, that uses reinforcement learning technology that is hosted in Microsoft Azure. This technology is a type of machine learning in which the system learns to make decisions in complex, unpredictable environments based upon external feedback and then provides a more personalized experience for customers. Customers receive tailor-made order suggestions generated by the reinforcement learning platform. Members now receive thoughtful recommendations from the application for food and drinks based on local store inventory, popular selections, weather, time of day, community preferences, and the customers previous orders. The next area of expansion for this technology is their drive thru.
The implementation of this technology in their drive thru is not as straight forward as the application. The application houses individual order histories, that feeds into Deep Brew, and they are not able to replicate individual order histories through the drive thru until a customer user the application to pay or cash in their rewards. So, you must think to yourself, how will they anticipate and make recommendation to drive thru users.? They will use different data! They will use the transaction histories of that store and more than 400 other store-level criteria to generate these real time recommendations.
Second, they have implemented the Internet of Things (IoT) to support a seamless operation. A glitch in any device can mean service calls, repair costs, and, more significantly, equipment problems that could potentially interfere with their primary goal of providing a consistently high-quality customer experience. The IoT-enabled machines collect more than a dozen data points for every shot of espresso pulled, from the type of beans used to the coffee’s temperature and water quality, generating more than 5 megabytes of data in an eight-hour shift. This data is then aggregated to identify problems proactively and enables Starbucks to send new coffee recipes directly to machines. As they continue to refine the use of IoT Starbucks for preventive, measures they are also looking to use this in the future for managing inventory and ordering supplies. They are also looking to use their influence with the suppliers of their devices to build more robust solutions into the future versions of their products.
Third, Starbucks uses blockchain to innovate ways to trace the coffee’s journey from farm to cup and connect the people who drink it with the people who grow it. This new feature, powered by Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service, allows supply chain participants to trace both the movement of their coffee and its transformation from bean to the final bag. A fun rumor that has been swirling since their announcement of using of blockchain, is that Starbucks may start accepting bitcoin payments in its U.S. locations.
So now that you know all the technology behind your Starbucks experience, do you still only think of them as a coffee shop? Or do you start to see them as a Tech company?