The Big Apple is getting its first cashierless Starbucks cafe on Thursday.
The guava giant opened a cafe inside an Amazon Go store on E. 59th St. and is using Amazon’s cashierless technology, allowing customers to order on the Starbucks app, grab their coffee and leave without opening up their wallets or swiping a card.
At least three more such locations in New York will open next year, including one in the New York Times building on W. 40 St. and Eighth Avenue, Starbucks said on Thursday.
The initiative comes as Starbucks is closing 400 underperforming stores and is replacing them with smaller pickup locations that offer drive-thrus or curbside service, which began during the pandemic.
Starbucks says that 80 percent of its orders are on-the-go orders.
“Our goal with this new store concept is to give our customers the ability to choose which experience is right for them as they go through their day, whether it is utilizing the Starbucks and Amazon apps to purchase food and beverages on the go, or deciding to stay in the lounge for the traditional third place experience Starbucks is known for,” Starbucks senior vice president of global growth, Katie Young said in a statement.
Hit by a U.S. labor crunch, Starbucks and other companies are expanding labor-saving technology like artificial intelligence, robotics and digital touch screens.
White Castle is testing a robotic fry cook and Domino’s Pizza Inc is experimenting with self-driving vehicles for delivery. IBM is developing automated order taking for McDonald’s Corp drive-thrus.
U.S. restaurant staffing levels broadly are still at least 10% lower than before the pandemic, helping boost margins, said Rabobank analyst Tom Bailey.
“You’d see some of the digital automation tools deployed to cover that 10% gap as they grow,” he said.
Still, Starbucks says the new locations will have the same staffing level as any other Starbucks. Baristas will make drinks and the rest of the chain’s menu at the automated payment locations in New York City, the company said.
The pandemic pushed people to place more orders online for carry out, delivery and drive-thru.
To keep up, Starbucks shifted its development strategy to new store formats, adding pickup-only locations in urban areas, as well as traditional cafes and suburban drive-thrus.
At the new Starbucks locations, once the customer arrives, they can find the status of their order on a digital screen in the store and then pick up their order directly from a Starbucks barista, according to the Seattle company.
“Our vision is that each large city in the US will ultimately have a mix of traditional Starbucks cafés and Starbucks Pickup locations,” with the latter helping to “reduce crowding in our cafés,” Starbucks chief executive, Kevin Johnson said in June 2020.
Amazon, for its part, has 20 Amazon Go stores in major cities in the US.
With Post wires