Coffee giant Starbucks today announced the launch of its Blackberry app that enables you to pay for your coffee via your device. This follows the launch of its iPhone app nearly a year ago, with the Android version probably to follow shortly. All this is interesting for the rest of us as it illustrates the journey that major brands are making towards mobile.

Starbucks Blackberry Apps LaunchesIf you were to ask me what Starbucks is good at I probably wouldn’t say ‘coffee’. What Starbucks is brilliant at is loyalty. I’ve had better and cheaper coffee than I’ve had at Starbucks, yet I continue to gravitate towards their outlets because I enjoy the experience. The coffee business as a whole has realised that loyalty is critical to it survival. Starbucks are the leaders in this space and their mobile apps offer a lesson to us in other businesses.

Starbucks have already leveraged location-based technologies to improve the findability of their stores. They have transferred their plastic loyalty cards to mobile and now they are making payments seamless. Log on to your Starbucks app on your phone, it produces a bar-code which is scanned at the cash desk; your account is deducted with the relevant amount and your loyalty points are  for your next free coffee. totted

Starbucks understand their customers deeply and as a result can create innovative Internet-based solutions that make the purchase process better (easier and quicker) while maximising loyalty. A very smooth transition from ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘bricks and taps’.

(Note that the apps are not yet available in Ireland.)