- Starbucks debuted voice-enabled ordering in South Korea by integrating with Bixby, Samsung’s intelligent assistant that works on newer Samsung Galaxy devices, according to a statement. With the launch, Starbucks Coffee Korea is the first merchant to use Bixby for end-to-end ordering and payment.
The voice-ordering features are an extension of Starbucks Siren Order, the company’s mobile order and pay technology, which allows customers in South Korea to order and pay for their purchases before arriving at their store. Galaxy device users who have the My Starbucks Rewards app can use voice commands to place orders for pick-up at a nearby store.
The feature lets customers speak as if they were talking to a barista in-store, including individual preferences for a beverage. Bixby users who aren’t registered in the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program are prompted to first enroll and then place an order.
The reflects how voice assistants are steadily evolving to include more commerce-driven engagements, including purchasing, advance ordering and coupons. This week also saw Target partner with Google Assistant for the first voice-enabled coupon on that platform.
Samsung was a relative late-comer to voice-enabled digital assistants with the introduction of Bixby in May 2017 on its flagship mobile devices in South Korea, but the consumer electronics giant shouldn’t be dismissed given its dominance in the smartphone market and Internet of Things appliances. Bixby has been derided for its limited functionality compared with rival digital assistants from Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, but Samsung appears to be committed to improving the technology. Bixby is available on higher-end models like the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S9 series.
Starbucks has made a push into voice-enabled ordering in various ways. Last year, the coffee chain debuted an integration with Ford’s SYNC3, the carmaker’s voice-activated technology powered by Amazon’s Alexa, per GeekWire. The feature let drivers place orders with voice commands while on the road. Starbucks also has a voice-reordering feature for Android users and Alexa, and a Barista chatbot for iOS.
Starbucks also is testing cashless payments in more stores after initiating a trial in Seattle, per CNBC. The company on April 23 will begin a pilot program of cashless payments at three outlets in South Korea amid the growing popularity of credit card and mobile payment systems, per Yonhap News Agency. Cash payments have steadily declined at Starbucks stores in South Korea from 31% of total sales in 2010 to 7% last year.