The rapid advancements in technology are certainly reshaping the food industry to deliver a more immersive customer experience. Not only it helps food chains increase the walk-in customers but also complements the repeated purchase behavior. Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse chain headquartered in Washington US, has 32,000+ stores worldwide and is considered a pioneer for the use of innovative frameworks to ensure seamless human-to-machine interaction. Not only can it automate the payment processes but also can help establish IoT platforms for enhanced efficiency into the customer journey. One recent advancement introduced by Starbucks is titled “Starbucks Touch” which essentially is the NFC-enabled pen. This smartpen has revamped the payment check-out process via automation and re-enforces the overall business positioning of Starbucks.
Technological Framework for Starbucks Touch – The NFC-enabled Pen
Structurally, Starbucks Touch is a pen empowered by NFC. It comes in three different colors and can write with coffee-shade ink. If the communication dynamics of the smartpen are considered, it works upon the FeliCa technology, which essentially is a contactless system developed by Sony, Japan. It uses encryption keys and mutual authentication procedures to transmit payment information. The credit/debit card information can be stored in the pen; it is a manual process and can be done only once to enable repeated POS usage. More so, there is no power source i.e., the battery in the NFC-enabled pen rather it communicated using the power of the NFC reader; once the transaction has been done, the power supply from the reader stops.
Once a customer receives an over-the-counter product, he can swipe the pen against the FeliCa-enabled POS counter. The credit/debit card information stored in the pen can be securely transmitted to the reader and transactions can take place accordingly. This pen serves as a digital wallet, coupled with the gel-ink, and is designed on the philosophy of seamless and agile interactions.
Utility of Starbucks Touch – NFC-enabled Pen
The NFC-enabled pen has multi-faceted impacts on the coffee shop business. The pen can generally cost from $35 to $40 per piece. On one hand, it serves as a status symbol for socio-economic class A of the society and makes Starbucks a very premium brand while on the other hand, the pen makes the checkout process very easy as now less time is required on both cashier and customer end to make the payment; there is no hassle of counting cash or swiping the cards against the readers. If one thinks about the prevailing scenario of COVID-19 where human interaction has significantly been reduced to avoid the spread of the disease, it goes a long way in achieving the over-arching objective of social distancing while not disrupting the business SOPs so much.
Starbucks Touch: NFC enabled pen isn’t the first smart product introduced by Starbucks, rather it has a full product line to offer, which certainly elevates the user experience. These products include a phone case and flask, which can automatically transmit information to complete the transactions or process. With all these innovations, Starbucks is asserting itself as a leader of the food industry in the realm of technology adoption; Starbucks is leveraging technology to further improve its rates of return, and business growth trends are characterized by futuristic developments.
The FeliCa™ Lite-S: RC-S966 product is a small-size contactless IC chip fully comply to NFC Forum Type 3 Tag and ISO/IEC 18092 specifications. The card made with photo quality standard PVC sheets into the size of CR80, that are suitable for use with most direct thermal or thermal transfer card printers.