Starbucks – Omni-Channel Research Project

Researching the User Experience II at Kent State allowed me to pick any project I wanted, and follow it from start to finish. I decided to do a type of research I am not usually exposed to while working, and chose to focus on one of the largest food and beverage companies to do it. 

The Problem

Starbucks is a leader in the food and beverage industry, due in large part to My Starbucks Rewards (MSR) and the related mobile application/payment platform. In the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, “$1.9 billion [was] loaded on Starbucks Cards in the U.S. and Canada [and] 1 in 6 American adults received a Starbucks Card over [the] Holiday [season].” In addition to that, “Membership in the company’s My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program increased 23%; the company now has more than 11 million active members in the U.S.” (from Starbucks Investor Relations, FY2016 Q1 Earnings Release). A high level of customer loyalty not only boosts sales, but also acts as a promotional vehicle to bring prospects into stores. As of July 2015, mobile payments through the Starbucks app account for 20% of in store sales, or approximately 9 million transactions a week. Providing the best mobile experience is imperative to retaining our current customer base as they adopt this platform more, as well as to attracting new customers to the reward/app ecosystem. This, along with the rest of the omni-channel experience at Starbucks, can and should be optimized for efficiency, usability, and customer delight.


  • Develop research questions based on business goals and learning objectives.
  • Create an audience profile to narrow in on the types of users to research with
  • Create screener and recruitment plan to find/schedule participants
  • Determine key tasks, success criteria, and measurements/metrics while writing up a script for how to conduct the research sessions.
  • Write a final report with outlining the process for above, key findings, and recommendations for next steps.
  • Turn report into presentable deck for stakeholder meeting.

Research Questions

This project aims to answer the following overarching research questions about the Starbucks omni-channel experience:

  • What steps in the Starbucks omni-channel experience cause the most friction for users?
  • What features and functionality in the mobile application provide the most value to users?
  • How can the app and in-person experiences be improved to better fit the needs and goals of the user?

Target Audience Profile

The following criteria were used to develop screener questions and identify potential participants for our research:

  • Age: 21 – 65
  • Gender: Mix of male/female
  • Location: Greater Boston Area, 1-2 miles from a Starbucks
  • Drinks Starbucks at least once a month
  • Must have and use smartphone as payment method

Preview of the full report. Click here or either image to download the full PDF.

Results – Research Findings and Recommendations

Sessions were completed with six individuals, broken down into the following:

  • 3 male, 3 female
  • 2 in their 20s, 2 in their 30s, 1 in their 40s, 1 in their 50s
  • 5 used iOS, 1 used Android
  • 5 used mobile ordering in the past, 1 did not

View video of full narrated findings below. You can also download the deck or download the PDF of the written report.

Lessons Learned