Brands Are Creating Their Own Branded Voice Assistants

February 2, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Move over, Siri — there’s a new cheery-voiced assistant vying for user attention. Starbucks is the latest national brand to launch into the voice app space, and they’re doing it in a novel way with the creation of a Starbucks-specific voice assistant.

Similar to ordering from a business via Google or Siri, the Starbucks voice assistant follows a chat-based protocol allowing users to see options, combine products verbally, and pay in advance using their smartphone.

This isn’t Starbuck’s first move into the voice or mobile app development space, as their mobile app already allows users to sync with Alexa and designate favorite drinks. With Alexa, the process is as simple as saying “Alexa, order my Starbucks.” Using information on the location you frequent, the assistant delivers an ETA for the order, and debits the amount from your account on file.

While this is a niche use case, Starbucks and other national brands are seeing this as a chance to jump on a trend before it becomes truly huge — offering the sort of outsized rewards that early NYC app developers in on-demand services and other “hot” startup areas were able to garner.

In a statement on the company’s technology ventures, chief tech officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger said that “the Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility.” With that in mind, training a smartphone app to act as barista makes at least a glimmer of sense — and offers a glimpse into the tech-enabled future of the food and hospitality business.

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