1. Starbucks to reward for dollars spent instead of frequency
Starbucks changed up its mobile experience on April 12 with an app upgrade and a new system for earning stars, the coffee giant’s equivalent of points. In advance of the change, corporate sent out an email to its rewards members to let them know it was launching a new Starbucks Rewards program April 12, and to expect some bugs in the app on April 11 during the tech upgrade.
While users used to earn one star per visit, they’ll now earn two stars per $1 spent. The point of contention: Far more stars are needed to earn rewards (125 stars to earn a free reward versus 12) and to advance to the next Rewards level (300 stars rather than 30 to advance to Gold), which qualifies users for additional perks. In response to the customer pushback, the chain posted on its blog that “the vast majority of you will earn rewards just as fast, if not faster” because there are more opportunities to earn stars, including with in-app partnerships with Spotify, The New York Times and ride service Lyft.
To further appease users, Gold and Green members will keep their current status and any previously earned stars will be multiplied by 11 to reflect the higher threshold. Too, the chain is offering automatic Gold status through May 2 for customers’ first purchase through the new Starbucks Rewards mobile program.
Starbucks Rewards program currently has 12.1 million active members, and more than 20 percent of in-store transactions are paid for via the app, said President and COO Kevin Johnson during an annual shareholders meeting on March 23.
2. Dunkin’ takes aim at Starbucks
The day before Starbucks’ app launch, Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out a new mobile app aimed at loyalty and rewards. The upgrade includes adding Apple Pay functionality to be used at participating locations, the option to load and manage cards from the app and the ability to earn loyalty rewards. Those enrolling in the new DD Perks program this month automatically get a new beverage. And throwing some shade at Starbucks, new users who enter the code “STARS” will be a bonus 125 points, then will get additional points for their second and third purchases on an enrolled card. Users normally accrue five points for every $1 spent.
3. Applebee’s wants to boost takeout
Applebee’s also revamped its mobile app this week, this version focusing on pay-ahead features to make for easier takeout. “We’ve made the app more order-centric based on what guests told us they wanted, making it easier to use and faster to place an order," said Adrian Butler, senior vice president and chief information officer for DineEquity, Inc., in a release.
Previously, takeout customers could order via the app, including for Carside To Go pickup, but staffers still had to collect payment on-site. Now, users can both order and pay in the app. Plus, they can save payment card details as well as previous orders within the app to speed up processing. A new feature also allows for orders to be set up days in advance.