Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Starbucks to let customers tip digitally

Starbucks has concocted yet another way to shake some spare change out of its mobile phone-carrying customers: digital tipping.

Beginning Wednesday, March 19, customers who use the Starbucks App for iPhone in the U.S., Canada and UK will be able to use the app to leave a tip at more than 7,000 company-operated Starbucks stores.

Until now, consumers could not digitally tip at Starbucks. This has been a problem. Thousands of caffeine-seeking customers who carry their cell phones – but no cash – have been stiffing baristas, and not feeling so swell about it.

In fact, digital tipping has been one of the most-frequent suggestions from consumers on the Starbucks idea site,

"As more and more customers are using their phones to pay," says Cliff Burrows, group president, of Starbucks U.S., "they have asked for a convenient and meaningful way" to tip baristas.

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For Starbucks — and ultimately, for all retailers — its a response to consumer actions and needs. More than 11% of the weekly transactions in Starbucks stores are via mobile devises, says Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at Starbucks. And nearly 10 million Starbucks customers currently use the Starbucks mobile app.

Later this year, Starbucks will update its Starbucks for Android app and also add a digital tipping feature, says Brotman.

The initial barista tip options for customers will be: 50-cents, $1 or $2.

If you want to tip more — or less — you'll have to do it the old way: bring cash.

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