Square Debuts Mobile Ordering for Coffee

Uses location targeting to ensure a hot cup when you arrive

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Square today introduced Square Order, a mobile app that lets consumers order coffee.

The app tells baristas to start brewing as users approach a shop. With payment and ordering handled by Square Order, users can then simply show up and grab their coffee. The app will be accepted by hundreds of retailers in New York and San Francisco, according to Square, though the tech player only named Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. in Manhattan and Brooklyn as an early adopter.

Now, all eyes are on Starbucks, which invested $25 million in Square just two years ago. "We would love for Starbucks to join Order, but really, that’s a question for Starbucks," Johnny Brackett, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based company told Bloomberg.

Starbucks was in talks with Square about the service, but ultimately decided to create its own app, which will debut later this year, in order to "ensure it has adequate scale and includes its own customer-loyalty programs," Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills said to Bloomberg.

It's easy to see the appeal of Square Order to both patrons and coffee shops. "Traditionally, remote ordering has been difficult to execute for coffee shops because it jeopardizes the quality of goods," Brackett told Mashable. "We wanted to focus on building technology that would overcome this obstacle, which we’ve now done."

The app's ability to predict customer arrival also seems to have applications beyond coffee (pizza comes to mind) and, per Bloomberg, some takeout restaurants are utilizing the app. Although Square has refrained from suggesting additional applications specifically, Bracket did tell Bloomberg that his company has plans to introduce it to other markets. 

Square Order's arrival comes as tech giants like Apple and Amazon are entering the payments space and a week after eBay's announcement that it is spinning off its PayPal service. In response, Square is broadening its offerings, including digital receipts, business analytics and online appointment systems. The company recently raised $150 million in investments and is valued at $6 billion dollars.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
Publish date: October 8, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/square-debuts-mobile-ordering-coffee-160638/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT