SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (TheStreet) -- Starting Wednesday, Starbucks (SBUX) stores in Portland, Ore. will be the first to offer customers a mobile means of placing coffee and pastry orders without the hassle of standing in line. The company's end game is to entice the time-crunched customer, with the reward of zero wait time, to take a coffee detour.
The new smartphone ordering system, entitled "Mobile Order and Pay," lets customers using the Starbucks iPhone application place orders using an in-app menu that allows for customization and simultaneously preview wait times for nearby stores. Once a mobile order is submitted, the customer can then head straight to the in-store hand-off counter at a designated time and bypass the line. The system is currently only available for the iPhone.
Starbucks is labeling the release with a "beta" tag to denote that it still has to figure out some kinks, but the company expects to have the mobile order system available to all customers in the U.S. before the end of 2015.
The release is the most important addition to the Starbucks mobile application since the 2011 launch of the company's now widely popular barcode-scanning mobile payment system, Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman told TheStreet, as mobile orders are anticipated to be a catalyst for sales. Starbucks stores currently process 7 million mobile payment transactions per week with the in-app mobile pay feature accounting for 16% of all in-store transactions, Brotman said. Those figures are expected to experience a healthy boost once mobile ordering becomes more broadly available.
Mobile order will be available to customers using the Starbucks for iPhone application in the Portland area, with everyone else getting access to just a mobile version of the Starbucks menu. On first use of the mobile order feature, customers will be presented with a tutorial video and required to grant the application access to their location in order for the feature to work.