TechEd Las Vegas begins this week and my fuel to work through the final ‘to-do’ list for the Mobile Showcase Floor has been coffee from Starbucks locations across Toronto.

Admittedly, I have had so much coffee from Starbucks that it sparked me to write this blog post about Starbucks and mobility.

When we talk about business mobility, we often speak about the importance of integrating mobile operations into mainstream business processes. This is more than just slapping an app onto workers’ mobile devices. It involves sharing data between mainstream business systems and mobile operations. It’s easy to see why this is important for line-of-business operations. But is it as important for apps that may not be business critical?

Well, that depends on a couple of things. For instance, what is a business-critical app? And, what possibilities are opened up by new levels of integration? I got to thinking about this when drinking a grande, extra hot, soya latté, no foam and flipping through the Starbucks App. To my pleasant surprise I found a new feature that intrigued me.

For anyone who is not familiar with the Starbucks App, it is a simple mobile app for iPhones and Android devices that includes a prepaid account that enables customers to use their phone to make purchases. It also includes “loyalty card” functionality. It tracks how many purchases you make, and every time you buy 15 things, it let’s you get a free drink.

Now Starbucks has added a new feature to the Starbucks App. For some time, Starbucks has been running a “pick of the week” promotion. They offer a free tune, game, book, or some other kind of digital content to anyone who stops by the store and picks up a card with the “Pick of the Week” download code on it.

What’s new is that code is now being sent as a text message to devices equipped with the Starbucks App. To redeem the promotion, you just tap on the message. You no longer need to key in the promotion code, leaving more time for me to complete my TechEd ‘to-do’ list.

As a marketer, I love this feature and its value. This is great marketing for a number of reasons. In addition to the Starbucks App itself being a loyalty building mechanism, the content items users download are all things that a person would enjoy before, during or after a good cup of coffee: music, a good read, an app that creates custom yoga workouts.

By releasing a weekly pick, customers are conditioned to stop in on a regular schedule. Habit and loyalty are inextricably intertwined. This program promotes sales and potentially lengthens a customer’s stay in the store. It could also do a whole lot more, depending on how Starbucks integrates their Starbucks app with back-end data systems. For instance:

  • Starbucks App purchases and Pick of the Week downloads could provide hard data on demographics, geographics, and spending patterns. This can provide a huge amount of information about the effectiveness of certain kinds of promotion and the relationship between coffee preferences and entertainment media preferences, which can inform more segmented marketing programs.
  • Patterns in Starbucks App purchases can help inform supply chain management.
  • Adding the Pick of the Week feature to the Starbucks App turns the Pick of the Week into a closed loop promotion that can be tracked from end-to-end at the individual customer level. This model not only provides a deeper look at customers, it opens the door to other co-marketing and cross-selling opportunities.

Of course these capabilities are only possible if the mobile app is integrated with back-end data systems capable of capturing and analyzing data coming out of this consumer app. Maybe the old loyalty punch card would not be considered mission critical, but an integrated consumer app is something altogether different.

Impressed by the Starbucks app and concept? Want a smarter, mobile app for your business? Come by the Mobile Showcase floor at TechEd Las Vegas, find me and my staff will show you how.

Furthermore, if you bring me my favourite beverage (hint! noted earlier in this blog post) I will personally introduce you to Andreas Muno and the Rapid Deployment team who can help you to get started immediately. For those not attending TechEd Las Vegas, you too can start today, just click here.