[1/31/17]  Starbucks’ support for voice-based ordering shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given the retailer’s embrace of conversational commerce and My Starbucks Barista announcement last month. Still, it has moved pretty quickly from messaging-based interactions with customers to AI-enabled voice interactions.

What’s even more interesting is how Starbucks is pursuing this capability on two fronts. Putting it into a mobile app could make sense for some of the more progressive users of its app, but it’s not clear that everyone would use the voice ordering capability in the app, which is probably why Starbucks is pursuing a limited beta program for now. It wants to find out if customers are really ready for this, and how often they might use it.

The Alexa ordering skill is more of a no-brainer. If there’s anything the many, many users of the Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices like to do, it’s talk to Alexa — for a number of reasons, but especially for ordering things online. Asking Alexa to place their usual order from the local Starbucks should come very naturally to them. It’s not clear whether or not Starbucks and Amazon are working together in a more formal partnership in support this capability, but creating this skill probably didn’t require much to happen at a corporate level.

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