New to Starbucks: digital tipping app

Will allow users to add up to $2 when paying via app.

Things just got a whole lot sweeter for baristas at Starbucks. The Seattle coffee giant is rolling out an update to their mobile app that will allow customers to tip baristas via their iPhones starting on March 19th.

Originally started as a popular customer suggestion on MyStarbucksIdea.com, the digital tipping app will be available for use at more than 7,000 locations in the U.S. Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ group president for the U.S., Americas, and Teavana said in a statement that the digital tipping app will provide customers a “convenient and meaningful way to show their appreciation to store partners,” for more and more people who are using their phone to pay.

Customers will be given the option to tip in amounts of $.50, $1.00, or a maximum of $2.00. The $2.00 limit has been chosen for the launch of the app until the company can further “evaluate customer feedback” to decide if the current preset is “the right approach,” according to Maggie Jantzen, a spokesperson for Starbucks. Digital tipping will serve as “an extension of the cash tips already in the store,” and will not be part of the employee compensation package, said Jantzen.

The mobile app will also undergo a streamlined redesign that will benefit the “nearly 10 million customers” currently using the app, according to a statement by Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks, who said that more than 11 percent of transactions a week now happen with a mobile device in stores.

Part of this new design includes a new “Shake to Pay” function, which will bring the barcode of their Starbucks Card front and center with a simple shake. “If you’re anywhere within the app you can shake it and pull up the barcode when it’s time to pay, it saves a couple clicks,” said Jantzen, who described the Shake to Pay function as a “fun new feature.”

Despite never having used the mobile app, Starbucks customer Doraine Reed of Connecticut hailed the option to tip as “an awesome idea.” Reed believes that tips should be available in other low wage stores such as Dunkin Donuts, and that it could “inspire better customer service.”

Seattle native Tiffany Boroughs reflected on the growing trend of mobile transactions as she stopped off for some coffee at a Starbucks in midtown, saying that “to have technology involved,” in the form of phone purchases is “the natural progression for a business from Seattle.” Boroughs also added that the option to tip will come in handy for people like her that often don’t have cash on hand when the opportunity to leave a tip presents itself.

But not every customer is totally on board with the idea however. Jesse of Union City, NJ stated his belief that “on principle, tips are a terrible idea,” while grabbing a drink at a Starbucks near Herald Square. According to Jesse, the practice will “prop up the lower wage economy, and permit a lower wage salary.” He also reflected his belief that, “tipping tends to be sexist and racist in terms of distribution.”

Starbucks plans to update the app for Android users later this year, as well as “bring digital tipping to other markets in the coming months,” according to Jantzen.