Starbucks Business Model: How Starbucks Make Money?

iTechnolabs-Starbucks Business Model How Starbucks Make Money

Starbucks, an undeniable global titan in the coffee industry, stands tall as one of the most successful and well-recognized coffee chains in the world. Boasting an impressive footprint of over 31,000 stores scattered across 80 countries, it serves millions of customers daily. Each visitor is greeted with a unique blend of high-quality coffee and a cozy, inviting atmosphere that feels like a warm embrace. But the question arises, what truly distinguishes Starbucks from its competitors?

The secret behind its staggering success isn’t just found in its consistently high-quality coffee, which is sourced from the finest coffee beans around the globe. It’s also in its innovative business strategies that focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing, ensuring that each cup of coffee not only tastes good but also feels good to consume. Moreover, Starbucks’ customer-focused approach has set it apart, addressing and adapting to customers’ evolving tastes and preferences with seasonal offerings and personalized experiences.

However, perhaps the most significant factor in Starbucks’ success is its ability to create a welcoming “third place” between work and home. This concept, a place where people can relax, work, or meet with friends, contributes to the creation of a community around the brand. Starbucks stores are designed to be comfortable and inviting, encouraging customers to linger over their coffee in a home-away-from-home environment.

Furthermore, Starbucks continues to innovate, not just in its product offerings but also in its use of technology, offering mobile ordering and payment to enhance customer convenience. This blend of high-quality products, innovative strategies, and a strong brand community has turned what could be a simple coffee run into a cultural phenomenon. As a result, Starbucks has cemented its status as a significant player in the global coffee industry, transforming the way people think about and enjoy their coffee experiences. In this article, we will read about the Starbucks Business Model.

The History of Starbucks

Starbucks was founded in 1971 by three friends: Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. Their goal was to bring high-quality coffee beans from around the world to Seattle, where they opened their first store. However, it wasn’t until Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982 that Starbucks began its journey to becoming a global brand.

Inspired by Schultz’s trip to Italy and his vision of recreating the Italian espresso bar culture in the United States, Starbucks transformed from a retailer of coffee beans and equipment into a beloved coffeehouse chain. Here are some key values that have been integral to Starbucks’ history and success:

  • Quality: Commitment to providing high-quality, ethically sourced coffee beans.
  • Customer Experience: Creating a personalized and welcoming environment for every customer.
  • Innovation: Continuously introducing new products and technologies to enhance the customer experience.
  • Community: Building a sense of community in each store and fostering connections among customers.
  • Sustainability: A focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship in its operations and supply chain.

The Impact of the Starbucks Mobile App on Its Commercial Success

In 2011, Starbucks launched its mobile app, allowing customers to pay for their purchases and collect rewards through their phones. This move was a game-changer for the company, as it allowed them to gather valuable data and personalize offers for each customer. The app also introduced features like ordering ahead and finding nearby stores, making it easier than ever for customers to get their daily caffeine fix.

The success of the Starbucks mobile app has been remarkable, with over 20% of transactions now being made through the app. This adoption rate is significantly higher than other major retailers’ mobile apps, highlighting the significant impact it has had on Starbucks’ commercial success.

  • Convenience: With the app, customers can order and pay for their drinks ahead of time, reducing wait times in-store. This convenience factor has been a significant draw for busy customers who want to save time.
  • Personalization: The app allows Starbucks to gather data on customer preferences and usage patterns, enabling them to personalize offers and recommendations for each individual. This customization creates a more personalized and enjoyable experience for customers, leading to increased loyalty.
  • Rewards system: The app’s rewards system has been a huge draw for customers, with every purchase earning them points that can be redeemed for free drinks and other offers. This incentive has helped to increase customer engagement and drive repeat business.
  • Community-building: Through the mobile app, Starbucks has been able to foster a sense of community among its customers. The app features a social aspect where users can see what their friends are drinking and even send digital gift cards to each other, further solidifying customer loyalty.

Also Read: 10+ Unique Features from Tim Hortons App for Developing a Food Ordering Application

Features of Starbucks Mobile App

1. Earn and Redeem Rewards

One of the standout features of the Starbucks mobile app, highly favored by users, is its sophisticated rewards system. Every time customers make a purchase, they accumulate points as part of this program. These points can then be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including complimentary drinks, delicious food items, or even exclusive Starbucks merchandise. This rewards system is ingeniously designed to incentivize customers, encouraging them not only to continue engaging with the app but also to visit Starbucks locations more frequently. By offering tangible benefits for purchases, Starbucks enhances customer loyalty and promotes a more enjoyable and rewarding coffee-buying experience.

2. Gifting and Sharing

The application enhances the user experience by enabling the sending of digital gift cards directly to friends or family. This convenient feature simplifies the process of treating loved ones to their favorite Starbucks drink or snack, fostering a sense of connection and celebration of special moments, even from afar. Beyond convenience, this feature serves as a powerful tool for promoting customer loyalty, as it encourages repeat visits. It also plays a crucial role in expanding the brand’s visibility and reach. By facilitating these small acts of kindness, Starbucks leverages word-of-mouth recommendations, as recipients are likely to share their positive experiences with others, further solidifying the brand’s presence in the market.

3. Locate a Nearby Store

In addition to its many other features, the Starbucks app also includes a store locator function. This feature helps customers easily locate the nearest Starbucks location and provides directions on how to get there. For busy or on-the-go individuals, this feature is incredibly convenient as it eliminates the need to manually search for directions or addresses. By streamlining the process of locating a store, Starbucks makes it easier for customers to incorporate a visit into their daily routines, increasing the likelihood of repeat visits and fostering a sense of convenience and efficiency. Moreover, this feature also serves as a marketing tool by showcasing the widespread presence of Starbucks locations and promoting brand awareness.

4. Order Placement and Payment

The Starbucks app allows customers to place their orders and make payments directly through the app, removing the hassle of waiting in line or carrying cash. This feature also offers customization options for drink preferences, making it easy for customers to order their exact specifications without any errors. By providing a seamless ordering and payment process, Starbucks enhances customer satisfaction and promotes efficiency. It also serves as a way for the company to gather data on customer preferences and trends, allowing them to make informed decisions about their products and services.

5. Pay in Store

For customers who prefer to pay in-store, the app also offers a payment option that allows them to reload their Starbucks card and use it for purchases. This feature not only promotes convenience for customers, but it also encourages brand loyalty by providing additional incentives such as rewards and discounts. By incentivizing customers to use the app and make payments through it, Starbucks enhances customer retention and promotes a sense of brand loyalty and exclusivity.

6. Starbucks Card Management

The Starbucks app allows customers to manage their Starbucks cards, including viewing the remaining balance, adding funds, and tracking rewards. This feature not only enhances convenience for customers but also promotes financial transparency and control. By giving customers access to their account information at their fingertips, Starbucks promotes a sense of trust and reliability with its customers.

7. Tip Your Barista

Another unique feature of the Starbucks app is the ability to tip your barista. This feature allows customers to show their appreciation for exceptional service and build a stronger connection with their favorite baristas. It also serves as a way for baristas to receive recognition and potentially increase their earnings. By promoting positive interactions between customers and employees, Starbucks creates a positive work culture and enhances customer satisfaction.

MVP Features of a Starbucks Like App You Must Consider

Some key features that make the Starbucks app stand out and serve as a benchmark for other similar apps are:

Sign-up and login process:

The Starbucks app offers a user-friendly sign-up and login process, designed to enable customers to swiftly create an account or conveniently log in using their preferred social media accounts. By integrating this feature, Starbucks effectively eliminates the common hassle for customers of having to remember yet another set of login credentials, thereby enhancing the overall user experience. This streamlined approach not only simplifies access to the app but also encourages more people to join the Starbucks community, making the app more accessible and user-oriented.

Menu and Ordering System:

The menu and ordering system of the Starbucks app is another essential feature that contributes to its success. With an interactive, user-friendly interface, customers can easily browse through a variety of drinks and food options, customize their orders, and pay for them directly within the app. This not only saves time for both customers and baristas but also reduces the chances of order errors, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

Order Pick-Up Convenience:

One of the most appealing features of the Starbucks app is its order pick-up convenience. Customers can place their orders through the app and choose a convenient pick-up location, eliminating long waiting times in crowded stores. This feature not only adds value to customers’ experience but also encourages them to use the app for future orders.

Mobile Payment Integration:

The Starbucks app also allows customers to link their preferred payment methods, including credit or debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay. This makes the checkout process quick and convenient for customers and eliminates the need to carry cash or credit cards. Moreover, by offering rewards and loyalty programs exclusively through the app, Starbucks encourages customers to make mobile payments, leading to increased customer retention.

Locate a Store:

The app’s “locate a store” feature is a convenient tool that allows customers to swiftly find the nearest Starbucks store and receive instant directions. By simply activating this feature, users can pinpoint the closest store’s location on a map, making it incredibly easy to navigate their way there. This functionality is exceptionally beneficial for travelers or individuals in unfamiliar areas, who may be in urgent need of a comforting beverage from their favorite coffee chain. Whether you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix or a leisurely cup of coffee, this feature ensures you can find your nearest Starbucks and enjoy your preferred drink without any hassle.

Push Notifications:

Starbucks also uses push notifications to keep users updated on the latest promotions, offers, and limited-time deals. These notifications serve as a reminder for customers to visit their nearest Starbucks store or use the app for a discounted purchase. By leveraging this feature, Starbucks can effectively engage with its customers and drive sales by creating a sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out). This strategy has proven to be successful, with many customers eagerly awaiting the arrival of new promotions and limited-time offers.

Read More: Crafting Success with a Restaurant App Development Company in California

4 Key Takeaways from the Starbucks App:

Overall, the Starbucks app serves as a prime example of how businesses can leverage technology to enhance their customer experience and drive sales. Here are four key takeaways from Starbucks’ mobile app success:

Be the First Thing Your Customers Want to See:

By offering a seamless and convenient experience, Starbucks has managed to make their app an essential tool for coffee lovers. The app is user-friendly and continually updated with new features, promotions, and offers, making it the first thing customers check when they crave a Starbucks drink.

Provide Seamless Integration:

Starbucks has expertly integrated its mobile application with a host of user-friendly features, such as mobile ordering, a rewards program, and push notifications. This strategic integration ensures that the customer’s journey through the app is smooth and effortless, enhancing their overall experience. By removing any potential friction points, Starbucks makes it more convenient for users to place orders, earn rewards, and stay updated with the latest offers and products. As a result, customers are more likely to use the app repeatedly in the future, solidifying their loyalty to the Starbucks brand.

Minimize Cognitive Load with Good Design:

The Starbucks app is renowned for its clean and intuitive design, which significantly minimizes cognitive load and facilitates a seamless user experience. By prioritizing simplicity and ease of use, the app allows customers to effortlessly navigate through its features, from ordering their favorite beverages to tracking loyalty points. This thoughtful approach to design helps to diminish the mental effort users must expend to interact with the app, thereby enhancing user satisfaction and engagement. Consequently, by reducing these barriers to interaction, Starbucks has made it more likely that customers will use the app regularly, fostering a more loyal and engaged customer base.

Level Up the Game of Rewards:

The Starbucks mobile app’s rewards program is a significant driving force behind its popularity, as it incentivizes customers to choose Starbucks over its competitors. By offering personalized perks, such as free birthday drinks and exclusive offers, the rewards program makes customers feel valued and appreciated for their loyalty. Moreover, the app’s integration with various payment options allows users to earn rewards on every purchase made. This seamless integration further encourages customers to use the app for their purchases, increasing their chances of earning more rewards and benefits. As a result, Starbucks has successfully transformed its app into a powerful marketing tool, rewarding loyal customers and attracting new ones.

How much does it cost to build the Starbucks Business Model?

Building a business model like Starbucks, especially in terms of its digital presence through a mobile app, involves significant investment in technology, marketing, and product development. Initial costs can range from $200,000 to $500,000 for the development of a high-quality, custom app featuring functionality similar to that of Starbucks, including its seamless ordering system, rewards program, and payment integration. This estimate includes design, development, testing, and launch phases. However, a critical part of replicating Starbucks’ success lies in ongoing investment in marketing and continuous app improvements to enhance user experience and engagement, which could see annual costs of $100,000 to $300,000. Furthermore, establishing and maintaining a loyal customer base through an attractive rewards program can necessitate an initial budget of $50,000 to $100,000, with ongoing costs depending on the scale and reach of the program.

Cost Breakdown for Building a Business Model Like Starbucks

  • App Development Costs: $200,000 to $500,000

This includes design, development, testing, and the launch of a custom app with features similar to the Starbucks app, such as ordering, rewards, and payment integration.

  • Annual Marketing and App Improvement Costs: $100,000 to $300,000

Continual investment in marketing and app updates to improve user experience and engagement.

  • Rewards Program Initial Budget: $50,000 to $100,000

Initial costs to establish a compelling rewards program, with ongoing expenses scaling with the program’s reach and effectiveness.

Suggested: How Much Does It Cost To Build An App Like Starbucks App?

How can iTechnolabs help you to build the Starbucks Business Model?

At iTechnolabs, we boast a team of highly experienced developers and savvy strategists dedicated to assisting you in crafting a business model that mirrors the success of Starbucks. Our comprehensive suite of services caters to all your needs, spanning from app development to intricate marketing strategies. We understand the nuances of creating a successful business and are committed to offering personalized solutions that align with your vision and objectives. Whether you’re looking to innovate or expand, our tailored approach ensures your project receives the attention and expertise it deserves.

  • Expertise in app development: Our mobile app developers possess deep expertise in app development, harboring both the technical skills and practical experience necessary to create a high-quality, custom app. By focusing on features similar to those found in the renowned Starbucks app, we can ensure your application meets the highest standards of functionality and design.
  • Design and user experience optimization: Leveraging the talents of our dedicated design team, we are committed to crafting an intuitive and visually stunning app that not only captures the user’s attention but also promotes sustained engagement. Our approach involves a meticulous focus on user-centric design principles to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for all users.
  • Marketing strategy development: Understanding the critical role of effective marketing, we collaborate closely with you to conceive and implement a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with your unique business model. This strategy includes a mix of social media marketing, influencer partnerships, and other targeted tactics designed to enhance visibility and engagement.
  • Ongoing support and updates: Recognizing that the digital landscape is continually evolving, our team is dedicated to providing ongoing support and timely updates for your app. This commitment ensures that your application remains compatible with the latest devices and operating systems, thereby guaranteeing uninterrupted functionality and maintaining high levels of user satisfaction.

Are you planning to build a Starbucks-like mobile app?

iTechnolabs-Are you planning to build a Starbucks-like mobile app

Leveraging iTechnolabs for the development of an app inspired by the Starbucks business model offers a wide range of advantages that can greatly enhance the success and scalability of your project. By tapping into iTechnolabs’ extensive experience and expertise in app development, you can ensure that your application not only meets but exceeds industry standards. Their deep understanding of customer engagement and loyalty programs, similar to those used by Starbucks, can be instrumental in creating a user experience that fosters repeat business and brand loyalty. This collaboration could be the key to unlocking significant growth and establishing a strong presence in your market.  By choosing iTechnolabs, you gain access to a comprehensive suite of services that are paramount for crafting an application that not only resonates with your audience but also drives substantial business growth:

  • Custom Solutions Tailored to Your Business Needs: iTechnolabs excels in creating custom applications that are designed specifically to meet the unique requirements and goals of your business, ensuring that the final product aligns perfectly with your vision.
  • Advanced Technology and Innovation: With a focus on utilizing cutting-edge technology and innovative approaches, iTechnolabs ensures that your application stays ahead of market trends, providing you with a competitive edge in the fast-paced digital landscape.
  • Enhanced Customer Engagement: Through the development of features inspired by the Starbucks app, such as loyalty programs and personalized marketing, iTechnolabs helps significantly enhance customer engagement and retention, driving repeated business and fostering a loyal customer base.
  • Data-Driven Insights for Business Growth: iTechnolabs not only delivers an outstanding app but also provides valuable data analytics that can guide your business decisions, helping you to understand customer behavior better and tailor your offerings to meet market demands effectively.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: As your business grows, iTechnolabs’ solutions are designed to scale with you, ensuring that the app can handle increased user traffic and evolving business models without compromising on performance or user experience.


With iTechnolabs as your mobile app development partner, you can rest assured that your app will not only meet but exceed your expectations. Our team of experienced developers and designers works closely with you to bring your ideas to life, creating a powerful and effective solution that drives business growth and success. Let us help you take your business to the next level with our custom-built applications tailored to your specific needs and objectives. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your business goals.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q 1. What kind of business model does Starbucks use?

A: Starbucks employs a distinctive business model that seamlessly blends company-owned stores with franchised outlets. This strategic approach facilitates widespread global expansion, enabling Starbucks to penetrate new markets efficiently. At the same time, it ensures a high degree of control over the brand, allowing the company to maintain a consistent and high-quality customer experience across all locations. This balance between expansion and brand control is a key factor in Starbucks’ success in the highly competitive coffee industry.

Q 2. Why is Starbucks successful?

A: Starbucks’ success can be attributed to several factors, including its strategic business model, strong brand image and customer loyalty, innovative marketing strategies, and high-quality products. The company’s focus on creating a welcoming and comfortable environment in its stores also plays a significant role in attracting and retaining customers. Additionally, Starbucks has adapted well to changing consumer trends, such as the growing demand for plant-based options and online ordering, further contributing to its success.

Q 3.What is Starbucks target market?

A: Starbucks’ target market is primarily made up of affluent, urban and suburban individuals between the ages of 25-40. These consumers are typically earlier adopters of new products and are willing to pay a premium for high-quality coffee and an elevated experience. However, Starbucks has also expanded its target market to include younger generations by offering more diverse menu options, such as flavored drinks and seasonal specials, and implementing digital initiatives to appeal to tech-savvy consumers. Overall, Starbucks aims to target a broad range of customers while maintaining its reputation as a premium coffee brand.  Overall, the company’s ability to cater to various demographics has contributed significantly to its success.

Q 4.Why is Starbucks so unique?

A: Starbucks’ unique blend of premium coffee, customer experience, and strong brand image sets it apart from other coffee chains. The company’s commitment to ethically sourcing its beans and implementing sustainable practices also adds to its uniqueness. Additionally, Starbucks has created a distinct atmosphere in its stores, with inviting interiors, comfortable seating, and free Wi-Fi, making them popular destinations for socializing, studying, and working. The company’s extensive menu options, including customizable drinks, food items, and even merchandise, also contribute to its uniqueness. Overall, Starbucks has successfully created a unique and recognizable brand that resonates with customers worldwide.

Q 5.What was the original business model of Starbucks?

A: Starbucks’ original business model focused on providing high-quality, premium coffee to urban and suburban consumers. The company aimed to create a comfortable and inviting space for customers to enjoy their coffee while also offering a quick-service option for those on-the-go. Additionally, Starbucks initially targeted individual consumers rather than businesses, unlike many other coffee chains at the time. This allowed the company to establish a strong brand image and loyal customer base, which has helped it expand into other areas and markets in the following years.  Additionally, Starbucks’ original business model included a focus on ethically sourcing its beans and investing in sustainable practices, setting it apart from other coffee chains at the time.

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