We Hit the Street and Creepily Stalked a Starbucks Drive-Thru

Just an interested consumer.

Most of us responsible for covering the amazing Starbucks have a range of buzzy stats and figures in the arsenal just ready to unleash.  No cool, buzzy Starbucks stats, you ain’t doing your job.  For those on the outside looking in, let me share two helpful things on Starbucks that are floating around the internet:

  1. 60% of the new 1,500 U.S. Starbucks locations planned in the next five years will have drive-thrus.
  2. Drive-thrus account for 1/3 of U.S. Starbucks, but comprise 45% of the segment’s profits.

Capturing sales via drive-thrus is a huge opportunity for Starbucks, no ifs , ands, or buts about it.  As we were reminded in our recent discussion with Starbucks, though, there are hurdles to jump over in order to realize the full profit potential of drive-thrus.  They include:

  1. How do you bring the in-store Starbucks theater experience outside?  One way Starbucks is seeking to do it is through a video intercom format, which allows the employee to see your body language when placing an order.  Hey, you can see the barista just like when going inside!
  2. How do you keep more and more automobiles moving quicker though a single lane drive-thru (Starbucks in our talk noted it has no intention to undertake double-lane, McDonald’s type drive-thrus)?  One way Starbucks has sought to do this is by moving pastries closer to workers inside the stores, reducing footsteps.  I continue to believe Starbucks will have to: (1) cut another window in a wall to service multiple orders; (2) redesign (expand) the portion of the behind the counter space so that multiple orders could be handled more efficiently.

As you can see from the multimedia package below, Starbucks has a bit of work to do on its older drive-thrus.  High class problem to be in demand, but with that demand arises a need to have processes down to a tee to generate max efficiency.

The Multimedia Package Show

Can’t go McDonald’s double lane drive-thru if your neighbor is a savings bank operating a drive-thru, also.  Point here is: consider the real estate of existing Starbucks drive-thrus.  Yes, this particular Starbucks drive-thru lacks the video intercom system.

The inside of the store will have to be rethought, as mentioned above…and pictured here.  Notice the cramped quarters.  Ignore the iced coffee pics.