Starbucks Discovers What Happens When Mobile Works Too Well

January 31, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Is it ever possible to be “too successful”? Some might scoff this notion away, but Starbucks is finding out that it is indeed possible.

More specifically, it’s discovering that its very popular mobile ordering program is actually generating so many orders that the individual baristas are having a tough time keeping pace.

The popularity of such orders is undoubtable, but all those orders have to go somewhere, and that means through a barista. When you combine the orders being taken in store with the orders arriving online, that means a lot of orders hitting the counter at the same time.

That’s making for some fairly substantial delays at the counter, so much so that some customers are walking out with no drinks. Starbucks is actively leaving money on the table, and recently, Starbucks went so far as to lower its full-year revenue target, noting a smaller increase in sales than expected.

CEO Howard Schultz, however, noted that this was a problem that Starbucks has solved before, and is preparing ways to tackle the issue of too much demand. New baristas were being added for the stores with higher volumes, and these baristas are expressly focused on mobile payments and mobile orders. New schedules are also being considered.

It’s the problem to have, really, especially in a market where the overall restaurant field is struggling like a gaffed tuna on a boat deck. Of course, it’s not a problem you want to have for long lest customers flee the business for good, but if it can be quickly rectified, it’s the kind of thing that keeps customers, too.

Every business has problems at one point or another; it’s the nature of the field. It’s how a business addresses those problems that keeps customers, and by adding staff and changing some practices, Starbucks is likely to keep business.

So yes, it is possible to be too successful, when there’s more business demand than supply can satisfy. It has the potential to turn good customers sour and limit the overall size of the business. Addressing these points can solve the problem and keep business on, and Starbucks isn’t wasting any time making changes to satisfy increasing customer numbers.