In January of this year, Starbucks launched its Starbucks card mobile app for the iPhone. An easy way to pay for your coffee by holding your iPhone in front of the scanner at your local Starbucks. Great thought. But why didn’t they take it a step further?

Back in 2008 I was approached by someone from Dun & Bradstreet to advice on an online strategy for a coffee company. I allowed my mind to run wild and mobile. Mobile is a great way forward for many organizations as it can connect their customer base to their products wherever they are. This can be especially valuable if you run a chain of stores. Starbucks currently only utilizes that one aspect of the mobile opportunity. But it should not stop at that.

If you are into highly customizable products such as coffee, there are endless opportunities to involve people in their process. Granted, this might be a bit too complicated for Starbucks as they run a range of standard products, but for any other coffee company this can be a key to beating Starbucks at their game. Imagine being able to choose your coffee on the way in to the store. You can choose one of the standard products, but you can also to select the exact blend for your coffee from selection of beans and additions at the store. You can then name that blend and save it to rate it as you drink your coffee. These new ‘custom’ coffee’s can be shared with your friends and you might decide that you want to have ‘one of what they are having’. That creates a whole new way of being involved with your store, your favorite drink and your friends. As a coffee company you might even be interested in promoting the top ten UGC’s (User Generated Coffee’s).

Regardless of whether you are offering the custom coffee creator (above), you could easily create an environment where people can share a coffee with someone else. If you use custom coffee’s, you can ‘give‘ someone a coffee of your latest and greatest blend through the app. Look at it as a very personal gift from your taste buds to your friends‘ morning experience. Just by the touch of a virtual button you pay for their warm wakeup. I am amazed that Starbucks has missed out on this opportunity. Or the opportunity to share your credits with others so that they can pick up a coffee for you on their way into the office. Something that could solve the small change problems at the office.

I see a great future for the chain who would be willing to implement an app which can do the things I mentioned above. And if you are the coffee company that dares, feel free to contact me so I can help you go mobile.