Starbucks Is Speeding Up Plans To Expand Drive-Thrus And Mobile Ordering Innovations Because Of COVID-19

Kristin Salaky
Photo credit: Lara Swimmer
Photo credit: Lara Swimmer

From Delish

Starbucks, like many other chains, had to adapt pretty quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., but as stores begin to re-open and social distancing measures begin to lift in some areas, Starbucks has announced what customers can expect when they visit stores over the next year and beyond.

In a press release, Starbucks announced these innovations, which mainly include an increased focus on take-out and ordering via its mobile app. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, about 80 percent of Starbucks transactions in the U.S. were on-the-go, so the chain is adapting to fit not only increased needs for safety, but also how customers seem to prefer to get their coffee.

This means over the next 18 months, Starbucks will be expanding the number of stores offering curbside pickup in suburban areas, and is expanding its drive-thru services to other markets. It's also looking into innovations like double-lane drive-thrus or walk-up windows.

For those in major cities like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco, you'll be seeing more locations in a Starbucks Pickup store format, which allows customers to mobile order their drink and pick it up from a barista only. In some other cafes that don't already have one, Starbucks will be adding a counter for mobile order pickup.

To be clear, these changes were already in the works before COVID-19, but in an open letter, Starbucks CEO and president Kevin Johnson said the original three- to five-year timeline will now be expedited over the next 12-to-18 months.

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