Does ordering coffee from your smartphone signal the end of personal interaction?

Does ordering coffee from your smartphone signal the end of personal interaction?

Summary: Starbucks is a leader in mobile payments and rewards, but I think they are going too far with plans to take the order phase from your face to your hand. Mobile payments are coming, but do we really need them for everything?

Does ordering coffee from your smartphone signal the end to personal interaction?

Yesterday, ZDNet's Larry Dignan wrote that Starbucks is updating its iPhone app to accept digital tipping. I just read over on Bloomberg that they are also planning to test the ability to preorder items from your smartphone.

While I am obviously a huge fan of smartphones and use them extensively every day, I am a bit old-fashioned too and do not like seeing this trend towards less and less personal interaction.

Ordering meals in advance of your arrival or for delivery, such as from Taco Bell or Domino's, make sense to me for busy families and those who want accurate orders. I don't visit enough fast food places regularly to get to know the workers and they get to know me.

However, I find my visits to the coffee shop to be rather enjoyable experiences where I talk to the baristas and get to know them over time. They learn my favorites, write my name on my cup without me having to say it, tell my about the specials, and interact with me as a human being.

If I order my coffee in advance on my phone, hold my phone up to pay, and then say goodbye then that experience changes and I can see us eventually moving to a world where people no longer talk to each other face-to-face. That is a sad world to me and I plan to skip this preorder functionality when it rolls out to Seattle shops.

Topics: Mobility, Android, iPhone, Smartphones

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  • LOL..

    Well that means I'll just get my coffee faster to not be able to sit anywhere because someone has turned a 3 seat table into his personal office. Grrrrrr
  • Options

    Ordering on mobile is a great option, but that's all it is - an option. Some won't like it, and that's perfectly fine! They don't have to use it. Others will love it. I can give examples of both sides just within myself. I hardly ever go to Starbucks, maybe only a few times a year. Therefore, I'd love to order the coffee from my desk at work before walking across the street to go get it. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't use such functionality at the local breakfast place I go to almost every day, even though I always order to-go. They all know my name and there's a bit of non-food-related chat whenever I go in. I expect that people who have that kind of relationship with their barista will simply choose not to use mobile ordering. Calling it a sad world where people have the option to do something that you're going to choose not to do is a bit overkill.
  • Hey look at it this way

    The fact that I (who doesn't want to spend one second longer in Starbucks than absolutely needed to get my coffee) will be using this app to order coffee will mean people like you will now have more time to socialize with the barista. Faster coffee for me, more socializing for you. It's a win-win.
  • ATM machines.

    Does withdrawal of money from the ATM machine signal the end of personal interaction?
    Jason Rasmussen
  • talking to a starbucks employee for all of 20 seconds

    to order your latte doesn't really qualify as personal interaction anyway
    • people go to starbucks?

      I make my own then watch Starbuck slice some Toasters...
  • With minimum wage workers demanding $15/hr

    You can expect to see this grow. I don't want to get political but this is a way to reduce costs. If costs increase you can bet this will become much more common.
    • simple idea

      Look at the minimum wage, cost of items, tax rate, college, jobs college was needed for, buying power, corporate welfare, etc, in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010. Did companies balk at labor costs, even YOURS, back then? ;)
  • so we make technology to eliminate jobs

    Then we bailout companied that make or use these things, vall erstwhile workers "lazy", demand everyone else except ourselves be serfs in pay... then bail out the banks and on top of the mountains of corporate welfare they're receiving and while they call everyone else welfare queens... corporate kings blame welfate queens...

    Nice society you built and are responsible for.