Here's the deal: In 2008, Stephen Gillett, now a president at Best Buy (BBY), joined Starbucks as CIO. In 2009, he hired Adam Brotman, now Starbucks chief digital officer.
Working with a small team, Gillett and Brotman, both in their late 30s now, devised and implemented Starbucks' digital/mobile strategy and laid the groundwork for the Square deal that was finalized this past summer under Brotman's watch.
They built the app.
There might not be a better consumer/retail app out there. Heck, there might not be a better app overall.Not only is it beautiful and functional. It drives sales. Anecdote doesn't always fly, but Starbucks' exponentially growing number of mobile transactions more than supports what I think I'm seeing. I probably went to Starbucks once a month before I downloaded the app. I go every day now. Sure, maybe the initial buzz will wear off, but I'm not so sure. These guys have it down. Not only does the app get better with every update, but everybody's on the same page. It's rare to find a surly Starbucks barista. At all levels, people, by and large, love working for the company. At the Starbucks I frequent, the barista -- we'll call her Selena Gomez because that's who she looks like -- treats everybody like gold. I went the other day. She remembered my drink ... because my wife had come in the other day and ordered for me. I wasn't with her at the time, but "Selena" obviously recalled seeing us at the location, inside a grocery store, in recent weeks. She proceeded to suggest a different variation on my order. One with less sugar and more caffeine. "Selena" let me know I could just dump the drink and get what I originally ordered if I wanted to. It didn't matter. She nailed it. And now, because of her style and the mobile app, I'm hooked. Starbucks now becomes habit. And, again, it's my individual anecdote supported by several million other Starbuck card/loyalty program/mobile app "anecdotes." I repeat: These guys have got it down.
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