• Stores in U.K. and Canada will get the capabilities as well
  • Mobile payments account for about 20% of U.S. transactions

Starbucks Corp.’s mobile-ordering service, which lets customers select coffees and danishes on their phones before walking into a store, is now available nationwide.

The technology was switched on at Starbucks’ 7,400 company-owned cafes in the U.S. after tests in select areas, the Seattle-based company said in statement on Tuesday. The service, which works with Apple or Android smartphones, will debut at some locations in the U.K. and Canada next month.

Adam Brotman demonstrates Starbucks' mobile-ordering service.
Adam Brotman demonstrates Starbucks' mobile-ordering service.
Photographer: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

“This is really meeting our customers’ needs for convenience in a way that’s never before been possible,” Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said in an interview. “It’s another channel that’s bringing additional business to the store.”

Starbucks, which first tested the app last year and expanded that trial in March, is increasingly looking to mobile technology and other convenience tools to bolster U.S. sales. The world’s biggest coffee-shop operator is experimenting with smaller, faster express stores in New York City and testing delivery this year.

Mobile App

Already, many Starbucks customers pay for their purchases with their phones, an approach that frees them from having to fumble with wallets or rewards cards. The order-ahead option makes it more convenient by allowing to people pick out their items before even walking in, letting them bypass lines. Mobile-phone payments currently make up about 20 percent of Starbucks’ U.S. transactions, and there are roughly 10.4 million active rewards members domestically.

Other restaurants have been expanding their mobile systems and loyalty programs in a bid to attract more diners. Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands Inc., introduced a mobile app last year that lets diners order ahead and pay on their phones. It’s helping drive a sales increase at the fast-food chain: Customers who use it spend more than $10 on an average order -- about 20 percent more than those who order in person.

McDonald’s Corp. also is hopping on the trend, with plans to introduce a mobile app to its 14,350 domestic restaurants this year. Dunkin’ Donuts has said its rewards program, which also is tied to its app, has attracted more than 3.2 million members.

Starbucks is looking for ways to take its app further. The company is working on adding suggestive selling features to encourage more food purchases, and it may expand its order-ahead capabilities worldwide.

“This has been so well-received that we’re excited to be looking at potentially every store around the globe,” Brotman said. “But it’s still very early.”