AI will take that even further. Going forward, with customer permission (something Chief Technology Officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger made very clear would be asked for when she spoke) Starbucks will be able to deliver a customized experience that gets better the more you visit.
"It is not a single algorithm used across the entire population; it is a data-driven AI algorithm based on your own preference and behaviors" she said. "The real-time personalization engine uses a lot of different inputs. Some of those are very specific to the individual, like their preferences, their buying patterns, but others are very contextual, like weather, or information that we know is going on regionally... This tends to drive up ticket and transactions."

There is a big opportunity

Ryan noted that Starbucks believes that the away-from-home coffee drinker market consists of 150 million people in the United States. The chain currently serves about half of them each month and the CSO believes that technology can help drive growth from those 75 million people who already visit the coffee chain.
"Of that 75 million, most are not members of our rewards program, only 12 million are, and about 8 million of them have converted to mobile, which has driven a lot of incrementality as mobile customers are more engaged than people who just use a card," he said.
Mobile Order & Pay, he said, is also a potential source for growth as only 2.5 million of the 8 million mobile customers use that technology. "I lay this out because at each step we have an opportunity to drive incrementality in terms of transaction and even the ticket," he said. "Each one of these things represents an opportunity to grow our business."
Going forward,it's easy to see how AI can further those goals while also continuing to give the chain an edge over rivals like Dunkin' and Panera. A smarter app will drive more customers to use it and that will push sales. A personalized experience should not only increase consumer satisfaction, it should also push checks higher, get people to sample new products they are likely to enjoy, and help the company move traffic to slower times of the day.