Starting with a pilot program in Seattle in the second half of the year, you’ll be able to order a Grande Soy Latte with extra sweetener from your phone (or desktop browser when at the office — rejoice, interns) and a Postmates driver will stop in and pick it up for you. The interface will probably build on top of the “Order Ahead” feature that Starbucks expanded last week.
Rolling out this partnership nationally would be a huge win for Postmates. Starbucks coffee is habitually purchased by customers who prioritize convenience over quality, and many of their customers have already downloaded the app to earn points for Starbucks’ rewards program. Even taking place outside of its own app, this should have a notable impact on the number of deliveries made daily and to the same customers, two metrics important for making new partnerships.
For Starbucks, it could be a way to defend against future disruptive competition. While its current advantage is the fact that it has more than 21,500 conveniently accessible locations around the world, it’s feasible that the company may one day compete in a market where we all order “takeout” via mobile apps and get to work in on-demand cars that takes us straight to the office. Delivering its coffee via Postmates would certainly intimidate any startup hoping to launch “on-demand coffee.”
The fact that this is an obvious strategic play for both companies gives hope that this won’t follow the pattern of the Square and Starbucks partnership that began in 2012, which fizzled out late last year after many hot takes about how big of a deal it was for Square. This time around Starbucks gets to own the experience, which is important for consumer brands: