Starbucks is exploring a potential new payment method called “scanless pay” in its drive-through lanes. This contactless checkout approach would utilize a customer’s geolocation from the Starbucks app to identify them when they arrive at the drive-through, eliminating the need for them to display a barcode on their phone to pay.
Although currently being tested only internally with Starbucks employees, this innovation has the potential to enhance the speed and efficiency of the drive-through experience. Customers wouldn’t need to go through the process of launching the Starbucks app, showing a barcode, and waiting for an employee to scan their screen. Instead, the app would automatically identify the customer’s presence, allowing the employee to hand over the order swiftly, potentially reducing drive-through wait times.
Developer and researcher Steve Moser discovered references to “scanless pay” within the Starbucks mobile app, where the feature is described as helping customers get their orders quickly by using their device’s location services to identify them when they arrive at the drive-through. The feature appears to be in testing at select locations, but Starbucks has not confirmed a timeline for a broader launch.
Currently, the system requires customers to opt in and check in through the mobile app when they arrive at a participating drive-through. They then tell the barista their name and inform them that they’ve checked in after placing their order. Although this doesn’t eliminate the need for a mobile device, it simplifies the payment process, allowing customers to focus on this step while waiting in line.
Starbucks has a history of pioneering novel payment solutions, such as its successful Mobile Order & Pay system, which significantly contributes to its revenue generation. If the “scanless pay” system proves successful, it could enhance both customer experience and drive-through efficiency. This development is in line with Starbucks’ ongoing commitment to innovation and enhancing its customers’ overall experience.