Starbucks launches wireless charging in the UK

Starbucks has launched wireless charging points in 10 shops in London

Starbucks has launched wireless charging points in 10 shops across London.

The coffee chain will provide customers with a universal key at the till point which plugs into their device. The device and key is then placed on one of the many Powermats located on tables throughout the coffee shop, which will wirelessly charge their mobile and laptop devices.

The launch follows the roll-out of the technology in around 2,000 US stores in the past couple of months after a year-long trial.

Starbucks European vice-president of marketing and category Ian Cranna told Computer Weekly the implementation of the technology was a "no-brainer" for the brand.

"Throughout all of our history we've been bringing in technology to customers to really enhance the experience in the store," he said, referring to Wi-Fi connectivity in 2011 which was followed by the Starbucks loyalty and payment app. 

"Increasingly, Wi-Fi connectivity – which used to be the angst for customers – has become much more widely acceptable. What we see now is power is the angst. Walk into any of our stores and the most popular seats are the ones near the outlet where you can charge up."

Cranna said when Starbucks found the Powermat technology, it thought it was essential to bring it to customers so the stress of charging devices could be taken away.

Powermat wireless charging is the first of a number of technology launches the coffee brand has planned for 2015 to enhance customer experience.

"It enhances experience in-store but also makes sure that we are being seen as a leader in technology," said Cranna. "And this was right at the top of our list, there's no doubt about it.”

The IT behind the digital

Starbucks has also been using cloud services to plan its IT innovation strategies.

The firm's IT director for Europe, Robert Teagle, said the European arm of Starbucks uses Microsoft Office 365 for email and SQL cloud services. It also uses Oracle's Siebel customer relationship management service for its loyalty system, which is tied to the Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning platform.

Starbucks has built its point-of-sale data warehouse on Oracle technology. It also uses Oracle Exadata Database Machine to scale and seamlessly migrate its existing data warehouse to Exadata to expand insight and facilitate decisions, even with big data, according to Oracle.

Cloud brings in flexibility and agility, and enables the IT team to respond faster to business needs facilitating innovation strategies, Teagle told Computer Weekly at IP Expo 2014.

“IT innovation has to be aligned with business goals and when we are trying to manage innovations, cloud IT certainly helps,” he said. 

Almost 97% of Starbucks’ business happens in its physical outlets, and Teagle said its important the firm innovates to improve the in-store experience. 

“Our stores are where our users enjoy our products and on average they spend 3-5 minutes if they are just grabbing a coffee or about half an hour if they are having it in-store. 

"It is a short period of time and our innovations have to be focused on making their experience a better one."

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Same reason as free wi-fi. Nowadays, it's like an essential need for people :)
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