Starbucks is rolling out new technology aimed at making coffee orders more personal. New features like voice ordering will expand the brick and mortar business with digital convenience, Starbucks announced at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

"I think that Starbucks has demonstrated over 40 plus years our unique ability to navigate successfully through lots of cyclical changes in the economy and political administrations," said Howard Schultz. It was his last shareholder meeting as CEO of the company. "I'm very confident that we will be able to do that."

Other new features will come directly from the Starbucks app, which launched three years ago and represents 8 percent of the company's U.S. transactions. Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks's chief technology officer, said that the company is leveraging artificial intelligence and big data from sources like past purchases and weather to show users what products are available at a store. She hopes the experience will become personalized and anticipate a customer's wants.

What's more, customers will be able to place voice orders by speaking into the app or by using Amazon Alexa. The app feature has been rolled out to 100,000 customers so far, and will be available nation-wide by the end of the year. "How many of you took typing classes to learn how to use a computer?" Martin-Flickinger asked the crowd. "Our technological foundation is allowing us to embrace conversational commerce."

Later this year, customers with an Amazon Alexa and Ford's voice-activated technology SYNC 3 can place a Starbucks order from their car. A user's Starbucks card will be stored file, and a notification will appear when an order is ready. There will also be new options for gifting. Microsoft 365 and iMessage users will be able to give a Starbucks gift card without leaving the applications - making the gift of caffeine even more seamless.

Schultz, who will remain as executive chairman of the company, will be replaced by Kevin Johnson as CEO on April 3. Johnson is taking over at an opportune time; Starbucks is expanding and plans to hire 240,000 more people globally by 2021, including 68,000 jobs in America.

Published on: Mar 22, 2017