Buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean

As many organizations start to journey through a Lean transformation, it started me thinking where I could apply this to what I do on a daily basis.  For today, I am going to use Starbucks and buying a Latte (buying a coffee will be in the next week or so).

So, let me setup the scenario.  Friday morning, I want a Latte.  So, I put my IM status on Away (haha) and I go over to my local Starbucks.  Here is the process.  I arrive in Startbucks and line up with all the other annoying people on their iPhones talking loudly to each other (note: I also have an iPhone).  Finally I get to the cash and tell the person my order (Latte, non-fat, blah, blah, blah).  I then scan my iPhone to pay or give them cash and they give me change…or if I want to be REALLY annoying, I use my Visa to pay (you know who you are).  Then, I wait with all those annoying people until my name is called and I get my drink.
I think there could be a better way…as there is too much of my time is wasted (muda).  To break it down further, there is too much waiting.

So, let’s walk through me wanting a Latte when I arrive at Starbucks.  Keep in mind, I already know what I want, I just need to tell someone to get it for me.  Unfortunately, it is an inefficient process to actually get my drink.  Here are the steps and I have averaged out the time below (minutes: seconds):

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
  2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
  3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
  4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:35)

A total of almost 4 ½ minutes (4:25) to get my drinks – and, IMO, a lot of wasteful steps for me to get a drink (Note: since my break is only 15 minutes, this process takes up 30% of my time).  So, how can it be done better?  Well, I am going to turn to my good friend mobile technology to streamline this process and create a smartphone App.  It is an App that I call the NoLineOrder App.  Starbucks already has a mobile app, so, my NoLineOrder App will be incorporated within.

OK, so, here we go.  It’s Friday morning and I want a Latte.  I know I am going to my local Starbucks.  So, I open my Starbucks App and click on the NoLineOrder icon which gives me the following options

  1. Choose Location – (default your last one or favourites)
  2. Your order – (default your last one or favourites)
  3. Arrival Time – (enter the time you will arrive to pick-up your drink)
  4. Payment (using my Starbucks mobile card I can prepay)

Once I have filled in the above, I receive the following on my screen:

  1. An order number with bar code (automatically generated)


Thus, my drink will be made before I arrive.  So, if my pick-up time is set to 10:47 (synched with my phone), when I show up at Starbucks, I can approach the counter and have the staff scan my number/barcode on my phone to get my drink.

The new steps are as follows:

  1. Complete app for drink order – (0:35)
  2. Pick-up drink – (0:10)

Total = 0.45 seconds vs the original 4:27.  Thus, I have saved myself just under 4 minutes per visit.

I would think that this could change the layout/job functions in Starbucks; for example, a longer counter for drink pick-ups, shorter area for those “old schooler’s” who want to line up and pay with (gasp) cash or even worse, credit card.
And though this is not the focus of my blog, this has many opportunities for direct marketing, tracking behaviours, loyalty programs, rewards, etc.
Anyway, I am pretty new to learning Lean but that is my idea.