Starbucks wants to use the Internet of Things to improve business efficiency and the quality of our drinks.
The coffee giant plans to go beyond well-known free Wi-Fi offerings in order to connect both its consumers and coffee makers to the Internet. Starbucks says that over the next 12 months, the firm will connect its coffee makers, refrigerators and appliances to the Web.
The company said it plans to double the number of $11,000 Clover coffee brewers in stores. The machines can connect to the cloud through a system called CloverNet, track customer preferences, update recipes digitally and self-monitor performance so problems can be flagged up.
It isn't just coffee makers that are being given a makeover. The coffee giant is also considering connected fridges that monitor ingredients -- for example, technology which informs baristas when milk has spoiled. Marianne Marck, a senior vice president of Starbucks, said the company is "investing in different technologies to make it easier for our baristas."
All of this data is critical to Starbucks, as it can then amend its business plans and product offerings to generate additional profit, keep drink quality consistent, and maintain stores more efficiently.
Wireless payments, touch-screen order systems and data collection all have a place in the retail sphere -- and can improve profit for SMBs as well as household name firms. The Red Fish Grill in New Orleans is an example of an SMB that uses such technology -- saving up to $15,000 a year after installing technology which manages oil for deep fryers. In exchange for a rental fee of $35 per month, cooking oil consumption has gone down by 50 percent, and the system also informs management when oil is not filtering correctly.
Haley Bitterman, the corporate executive chef of the restaurant said:
"Your margin in a restaurant is slim. The price of food never goes down and the price of labor never goes down. Everybody's trying to figure out how to help save some money."
According to tech giant Cisco, the market for web-connected devices will reach $27 billion by 2016 as more companies invest in them in order to boost their profit margins and efficiency.
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