Starbucks drive-thru customer experience redesigned
CLIENT : Starbucks
INDUSTRY : Retail and Consumer


An international food and beverage powerhouse, Starbucks is known as a purveyor of coffee that connects with millions of customers every day in over 24,000 retail stores. Their stores serve as neighborhood gathering places and places where customers can expect exceptional service. Starbucks is also known for having implemented innovative customer experiences, which include their early, and successful, adoption of order-ahead service and payment within their app. Starbucks customers are used to convenience and easy-to-navigate experiences—both digitally and physically.


We were tasked to redesign the drive-thru customer experience for Starbucks, starting with primary research and observations of customers in this highly competitive environment. Realizing that speed of service was the #1 customer sticky factor, we created an overall business strategy optimized for throughput, integrated with personalization.

During the project, we developed the overall business strategy, differentiated customer scenarios, and core functional requirements for the new drive-thru customer experience.  We then worked together with Starbucks IT to create technical specs that drove hardware and software selection processes to support functional requirements.  We were able to mock-up stores and pilot several platforms to ensure stability and customer-facing benefits.

starbucks drive-thru

Source: Inside Nova


Throughout the process, we created core competencies around global scale and deployment, including centralized network operations for menu-board configuration and management, digital instrumentation of drive-thru lanes and access to a proprietary loyalty payment platform. This digital platform enabled a sizable evolution in Starbucks merchandising such as mass price changes, unified SKU management, daypart offers, menuing and most importantly, the face-to-face engagement of customers and baristas.

By taking the interior café experience outside, we helped create a 20% lift in average ticket, as well as an improved customer experience, resulting in $400 million in new revenue.

Check out our big book of CX to better understand the philosophy behind this project.

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