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New 'Starbucks Pickup' Concept Will Be Devoted to Mobile Orders

Mike Pomranz

Starbucks serves as many things for many people: a meeting point, a mobile office, a de facto public restroom. But at its core, Starbucks is a place to get a coffee (or a coffee-based pumpkin spice beverage)—and soon, the chain will be launching a new location that focuses specifically on that: Starbucks Pickup.

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Though an exact opening date has yet to be announced, the first Starbucks Pickup will be located at the always busy Penn Station in New York City, according to CNN Business. Starbucks describes this new takeout-only concept as "a streamlined store experience for Starbucks Rewards members who order and pay with our app." The chain continues, "This is unlike any Starbucks you've seen before—a space devoted entirely to mobile orders, with no obstacles standing between you and your coffee."

Customers place their order through the app, find their name on the order status board upon arrival, and then simply grab their drink (or what have you). "If you have any questions, our baristas are here to help," the chain explains, implying that if you don't have any questions, you might not have to do much interacting with a barista at all.

Though Starbucks will be debuting this style of smaller, to-go and mobile-only store in the U.S., the chain launched a somewhat similar concept in China earlier this year. In July, the company opened its first Starbucks Now in the heart of Beijing's financial district—billed as "an innovative, express retail experience that seamlessly integrates Starbucks physical and digital customer touchpoints." However, unlike Pickup, the Now locations allow for ordering through a barista and offer "limited seating." Pickup appears to be doing away with these options as much as possible—though completely cashless stores have received plenty of pushback this year, so whether this location will allow for limited in-store ordering and payment remains to be seen.

Regardless, Starbucks has said that its rewards program now has over 17 million active members as of July, and as of June 2018, mobile orders represented 14 percent of all U.S. company-operated transactions. Clearly, a good chunk of Starbucks customers are willing to use this option for ordering. And if not, well, you can probably find one of those meeting point/mobile office/de facto public restroom Starbucks nearby. It is still New York City after all.