Is bigger really better? That's the question analysts (and some customers) are asking Starbucks as it feverishly continues to expand its menu offerings. The Wall Street Journal confirms that the coffee giant's menu currently has 255 items, and that doesn't even include the company's full range of overpriced mugs and gift cards. That is over 70 more items than Starbucks offered in 2009.
The chain has increased its offerings to stay competitive with other chains like McDonald's and Chick-fil-A, which have all introduced coffee programs. Some argue that this menu expansion — which includes sodas, La Boulange pastries, and grilled cheese sandwiches in addition to coffee — is not good for business because it has added "complexity to the kitchen" and may have slowed service.
Starbucks executives are fighting back against that claim, however, insisting that the massive menu is a good thing. Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead tells the WSJ that even thought the chain sells many more items towards the end of the year — thanks in part to seasonal holiday drinks and bakery items — it has seen " higher productivity." Alstead does admit however, that Starbucks needs to continue to focus on keeping service speeds up to ensure that "people aren't waiting in line."
The chain has already taken a few steps to keep lines small. They no longer offer to heat up each pastry purchased, instead focusing on just the ones that customers most often ask to have warmed. Alstead adds that each store is focused on making drinks "more efficiently" to keep things speedy.
Starbucks is also hoping the new order ahead feature on its app — which was rolled out in Portland yesterday — will help them maintain fast speeds by streamlining the ordering process. Instead of a slew of customers having to turn in complicated customized orders with a cashier, they can just send their pre-paid order to the store with just a few clicks in the app. Starbucks promises the drink will be ready upon a customer's arrival, which means one less person in line.