The company has been pushing its technology for a while now, such as video screens that show your barista at some Starbucks drive-thru lanes, and the popularity and ease of its mobile ordering app. (Last year, an average 7 million Starbucks customers per month ordered through the mobile app; the company predicted that just a few years from now, as much as 50% of its ordering might come from smartphones.)
Starbucks began testing a new feature on the mobile app, voice ordering, a few months ago. But for now, it has only rolled out the feature to a trial run of 100,000 customers.
At its shareholders meeting, Starbucks announced its voice-ordering feature will go nationwide by the end of this year.
In a pre-shot video, a customer demonstrated the voice-ordering feature. Her order was far from simple. She says: “Double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup.” The app responds by showing text to confirm her order, and the app nails it perfectly. It is admittedly impressive.
Starbucks also announced it will soon roll out a similar voice-ordering feature through Amazon Alexa, as well as voice-ordering in Ford cars equipped with the automaker’s SYNC 3 entertainment system.
“It only takes a little imagination to think about where conversational ordering will go next,” Starbucks CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said. She added that the opportunity to add voice-enabled ordering on other platforms is “intriguing” to the company.
If voice-ordering via smartphone, Alexa, or car isn’t compelling enough, Starbucks also announced that it will soon allow customers to give someone a Starbucks gift card quickly and easily inside a text-message conversation.
Howard Schultz has been saying for at least two years now that Starbucks is a technology company, and while some have scoffed at the claim, new and convenient functions like these give it a lot more credibility.
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business, technology, and coffee. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.