Cashierless coffee shops: a natural progression?

The unprecedented climate of the last couple of years has expedited the technological advancements that were already being seen in foodservice. Technology is being increasingly utilized to make operations more efficient and to meet the enhanced needs of the consumer in a world when convenience and physical health and safety are top of mind.

Now, is the next step cashierless stores?

Starbucks has opened a pick-up cafe in midtown Manhattan that uses Amazon’s cashierless technology to attract busy consumers who want to buy coffee or snack quickly.

The first Starbucks Pickup with Amazon Go location opened on November 18 in New York City, and the Seattle-based companies plan to open at least two more locations together over the next year.

When customers enter the store, they see a counter to pick up preordered drinks, bought via mobile. A digital screen hanging above the counter shows which orders are still being made by baristas. Customers can scan an in-store code from the Amazon app to enter the rest of the store, and can shop for food in the Amazon Go market inside the Starbucks cafe, which hosts a variety of food items from Starbucks, Amazon Kitchen, and local partners. Dine-in seating is also available.

Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology means scales, cameras and shelf sensors tally up customers’ totals and charge them automatically when they leave the store, although Starbucks still has employees on hand to help assist customers as they enter.

The location will have longer hours than a typical Starbucks cafe, staying open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends.

This is part of Starbucks’ broader plan to adapt its locations to consumers’ new habits. In addition to closing up to 400 stores in 18 months, the brand’s strategy since spring 2020 has included opening more pick-up-only locations in dense urban markets and installing walk-up windows and double drive-thru lanes in suburban areas.

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