March 28, 2013, 8:59 AM

Starbucks stirs up mobile purchases with its apps

The coffee chain predicts 10% of purchases will be made by mobile phone this year.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

By the end of 2013, Starbucks predicts 10% of its store transactions will be made by mobile payment.

Starbucks Corp.’s digital strategy is reaping the coffee house chain millions in desktop and mobile visits and encouraging more java-lovers to pay with their mobile phones.

Speaking at the company’s recent annual shareholder meeting, Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, says Starbucks’ mobile and desktop sites generate approximately 35 million monthly unique visitors. In comparison, Sears Holding Co. had 32.1 million monthly unique visitors in 2011, according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 guide. Starbucks is No. 427 in the Top 500. Sears is No. 8.

“We have traffic and scale on our own web sites that make us our own media company to build, connect and engage and tell our stories with our customers,” Brotman said. And Starbucks is sharing that information via its Facebook and Twitter accounts. In 2009, Starbucks had 1.5 million Facebook fans, a figure that since has grown to 54 million. And on Twitter, Starbucks counts 3.6 million followers.

“Literally tens of thousands of times a day people are talking about Starbucks,” Brotman said. “Meet me at Starbucks. I’m checking in at Starbucks. I need my Starbucks. I’m only happy when I get my Starbucks.”

Many of those consumers also carry a Starbucks card, which they load with funds to spend at Starbucks. More than 30% of the transactions made in a U.S. Starbucks store are made with a Starbucks card, Brotman said.

The mobile version of the card is experiencing huge growth, Brotman said, since it was added to the mobile app a couple of years ago. Now, the mobile version of the card generates more than three million transactions a week, he said. The iPhone and Android versions of the Starbucks app have 10 million active users, Brotman said. Each week, consumers download another 100,000 copies of the two apps, he said. He forecasted that by the end of 2013, 10% of Starbucks store transactions will be made by mobile payment.

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