On my way to work this week, I stopped by a nearby Starbucks and quickly realized I was not the only one craving a morning latte. I wanted coffee, just not so badly that I’d spend 15 minutes waiting in a long, hardly-moving line. Venti-less, I turned around and walked out the door.

Yesterday we wrote about how companies like UberSeamless, and Dominos are improving digital consumer experiences by allowing users to track their delivery in real time — and a similar model could certainly be applied to brick and mortar experiences. Starbucks has systems in place intended to streamline ordering in high traffic stores, but peak hours customers still end up repeating their order to several baristas, waiting in the crowded service area, and feeling unsure how long it will be until they get their drink.

Considering 10 million customers are already using the Starbucks mobile app for in-store purchases — to the tune of 5 million total mobile transactions every week — it’s surprising Starbucks has not yet extended its mobile capabilities to in-store ordering. With just a few taps, Starbucks customers within range of a store could select a drink from their ‘Favorites’ list, place their order with a barista, pay, receive an estimated wait time, and watch in real-time as their drink is made. This would allow mobile customers to skip the line and walk straight to the service counter, thereby reducing in-store congestion, streamlining a disorganized process, and further personalizing consumer experiences. Supplementing mobile ordering with in-store kiosks could eliminate the need for cashiers altogether.

And the business case is clear: by implementing mobile ordering to accelerate service, Starbucks would clear out intimidating lines and see fewer people like me who walk out without buying.

Creating a seamless experience is not just about simplifying transactions: it’s optimizing every part of the cross-channel consumer journey. Even digital leaders like Starbucks should audit existing systems to identify analog interactions that are causing friction for their consumers. Addressing these pain points, either by extending existing digital strategies or developing new ones, should be a core focus for every business.

(Originally Published on the Centric Digital blog // May 3, 2014)