Starbucks plans to move to mobile app, drive-thru, taps ex-McDonald’s exec

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Starbucks has hired a former McDonald’s executive to oversee technology as returning CEO Howard Schultz explores changes to the chain’s drive-thru, mobile ordering and payment and other systems of coffee. Deb Hall Lefevre will become Starbuck’s chief technology officer on May 2, according to a spokesperson. She succeeds Hans Melotte, who served as interim CTO for five months. Changes will likely include increasing personalization of the company’s mobile app for customers, as well as improvements to employee training, scheduling and equipment maintenance systems to free up baristas to spend more time with customers, a Starbucks spokesperson said, adding that Lefevre was unavailable. comment. Hiring a CTO with restaurant and retail experience will ensure digital transactions run smoothly, which has become especially important during the pandemic as more customers flock to mobile apps. and new payment systems, said Chas Hermann, consultant and former vice president of marketing at Starbucks. . Schultz “wants to have someone who can really rev the engine of the car,” Hermann said. “But the driver in the seat will be Howard.” As he returns to the CEO role for the third time, Schultz is plotting a broader corporate overhaul that also includes enhanced benefits aimed at deflating a burgeoning labor organizing effort at hundreds of cafes, which was partly driven by barista burnout following a deluge. mobile controls. Schultz has already freed up potentially billions of dollars for investments by suspending share buybacks. When Starbucks reports results on May 3, investors will be looking to see if the company is cutting its guidance and if price increases have offset rising costs. The coffee chain missed sales and profit estimates last quarter and its stock has since fallen another 20% and is down nearly 33% for the year.

“We need to reinvent the customer experience… We need to reinvent mobile ordering and payment, drive-thru,” Schultz said in an April 11 video message to store managers and seen by Reuters. At McDonald’s Corp, Lefevre oversaw all aspects of technology for its roughly 14,000 U.S. restaurants — helping launch its first app, introducing kiosks where customers place their own orders, launching digital menu boards — before moving into 2017 to Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, the world’s leading operator of Circle K and other convenience stores. Under his leadership, Circle K launched trials of automated payment systems in stores in Arizona — similar to Starbucks’ first cashierless location it opened with Amazon Go in New York in November.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Lisa Shumaker)

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