Starbucks is Making Use of Blockchain and IoT to Build Better Personal Relations With its Customers

As per an all-new article published on the official Microsoft website earlier today, Starbucks is in the process of devising a novel blockchain-driven UI that will allow customers to have a smoother, more personalized coffee buying experience in the near future.

In regards to this development, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks’ CTO and VP, claimed that his company had hired a “world-class team of experts” who were experimenting with a host of technologies so as to create solutions that will help increase the multinational’s human interaction with its customer base.

More on the Matter

Many of our regular readers may remember that Starbucks has been making use of technology called ‘Reinforcement Learning (RL)’ for quite some time now. For those of our readers unaware of what RL is, it is essentially a type of machine learning protocol through which a system is put in a position to make better decisions when faced with complex everyday scenarios (primarily via the use of external feedback data).

Additionally, it should also be pointed out that Starbucks’ smartphone app too makes use of a ‘reinforcement learning’ module —  so as to deliver users with customized recommendations based on things like:

  • Local store inventory
  • Weather
  • Time of day
  • Community preferences

On the subject, Starbucks’ Jon Francis was quoted as saying:

“Just like their relationship with a barista, customers receive the same care and personalized recommendations when it comes from our digital platforms,”

Other Key Data Worth Remembering

  • Starbucks is going to be making use of various RL-based operational modules to improve its drive-thru experience in the coming few months.
  • The technology is currently being tested out at the Tryer Center Innovation Hub in Seattle.
  • According to Francis, machine learning and artificial intelligence based protocols will soon be used by Starbucks within domains such as future store design, customer engagement and inventory optimization.
  • Through the use of IoT-based devices, Starbucks in conjunction with Microsoft is looking to collect a host of data that will allow the firm to identify any problems with its coffee vending machines that might be located all across the globe. Not only that, the platform will also allow Starbucks to “send new coffee recipes directly to machines, which it has previously done by manually delivering the recipes to stores via thumb drive multiple times a year.”

“Think about the complexity — we have to get to 30,000 stores in nearly 80 markets to update those recipes. That recipe push is a huge part of the cost savings and the justification for doing this.”

Blockchain and its Utility in ‘Coffee Sourcing’

On the subject of blockchain technology, a news report claims that Starbucks is all set to deploy a blockchain enabled system that will allow clients to know “more about their coffee beans” with the touch of a button.

This platform is going to be powered by Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service — a platform that allows people to know the ”movement of their coffee and its transformation from bean to final bag”.

“While high-quality, handcrafted beverages are so important, it’s the stories, the people, the connections, the humanity behind that coffee that inspires everything we do. This kind of transparency offers customers the chance to see that the coffee they enjoy from us is the result of many people caring deeply.”

Final Take

In closing out this piece, it should be pointed out that during its annual shareholders meeting in March this year, Starbucks’ executive brass revealed that their customers will soon be able to use the firm’s official smartphone app to trace the journey of their individual coffee cups.

“What we’re still working on is interviewing coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda, learning more about their stories, their knowledge and their needs in order to determine how digital traceability can best benefit them. We’re forging new ground here, so we’re excited to report more in the coming months.”

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