Celebrating Northwest technology and innovation, the annual GeekWire Awards are a bit of a cross between the Oscars and a geek prom. Tonight (5/7/15) members of Starbucks digital production team were there among fellow tech all-stars because Starbucks® mobile app is nominated for GeekWire’s "App of the Year" award. The winner was a dating app called Siren (no relation to the Starbucks Siren).
GeekWire, based in Seattle, is a national tech news site offering breaking news, expert analysis and industry insights. Each year, GeekWire rolls out a red carpet to honor the Northwest’s top tech innovators and companies through 13 award categories including: Geekiest Office Space, Gadget of the Year, and Next Tech Titan.
While it was “an honor to be nominated,” as the saying goes, for Starbucks mobile app team the greater reward is working on a digital tool that customers find useful.
“What motivates me to get to work every day is helping create the technology that makes life a little easier for both our customers and store partners (employees),” said Caroline Maxwell, a Starbucks graphic designer who works on the Android development team.
Maxwell started with Starbucks as a barista in a busy 24-hour drive-thru location, and worked in the store environment for three years. Her in-store experience influences her design perspective today, as she "always has barista usability in mind."
When Maxwell joined Starbucks, in 2011, the company had just launched mobile payment in all U.S. company-operated stores, allowing customers to pay for in-store purchases using a mobile device. Justin Shorney, an iOS developer, began working for Starbucks about a year later as the team began “building a new app from scratch,” taking advantage of new operating system capabilities.
The app features digital tipping, giving customers the option of adding a barista tip to their order. “Shake to pay” allows customers to simply shake their phones while inside the app to immediately bring up their Starbucks Card barcode. And the mobile app seamlessly integrates the My Starbucks Rewards® loyalty program.
In December of 2014, Starbucks piloted Mobile Order & Pay in Portland, Oregon. A new feature of the Starbucks® app, Mobile Order & Pay allows iPhone users (Android to follow later this year) to place and pay for their orders in advance of their visit and pick them up at their chosen Starbucks® store. Since its introduction in Portland, Starbucks has expanded the feature to over 600 stores in the Pacific Northwest and is on track for a national rollout of Mobile Order & Pay this year.
“From a development perspective it is awe-inspiring to be able to work on something that millions of people use every day, and it’s fun to work for a company that is as serious about technology as it is about coffee,” Shorney said. “This is a perfect place for me. I love both coffee and tech.”