Mobile ordering has been one of Starbucks’ major digital achievements, accounting for more than a quarter of orders at its U.S. stores. However, a recent spate of problems reveals that the shift to a mobile-first world isn’t without its glitches. As mobile orders pile up, the resulting bottlenecks deter walk-in customers from ordering – cutting into sales. Transactions dropped 2% in the most recent quarter, and Starbucks stock plunged as a result.

In-store usage of mobile devices is the new front line for brands. Retailers prioritize mobile ahead of any other area in digital, including their websites and social media, according to L2’s Mobile report. However, the study also finds that many brands still struggle to integrate emerging platforms and technologies, such as digital wallets and beacons. And the rise of mobile also presents inherent risks. After a poor user experience, only 15% of shoppers say they would give a brand a second chance.


But despite those risks, Starbucks and other brands with popular apps have taken the lead in a rapidly changing world. Mobile accounts for more than a fifth of retail e-commerce sales, with that number expected to climb in the next few years. As consumers become increasingly comfortable ordering lattes on their phones, they may overlook a few long lines in the process.

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