Mobile ordering that cuts the wait, not the character
What We Did
- User behavior research and analysis
- Logistics modeling
- Data-driven design for customer app & employee tools
- Mobile development in ReactNative
As it embarked on a national expansion, Philz Coffee —Silicon Valley’s favorite coffee brand— partnered with Work & Co to design, develop, and launch a new app-based ordering system for iOs and Android.
The goal? No wallet, no wait, just custom-made, hand-poured coffee hot and ready. Customers can order ahead, set pickup times, and pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or stored credit cards—leveraging technology to eliminate long lines for the famously hand-crafted beverages.
To build a custom order-ahead app for Philz, we first absorbed mountains of data on the behaviors of customers and baristas to understand the challenges and identify solutions. Paired with a brand new customer-facing app is a barista order dashboard iPad app built from scratch, and a layer of coordination logic to power recommendations and order queueing. We also took care to ensure the beloved personal connections with baristas continued to shine through the experience.
In the months after launch mobile sales spiked and customer satisfaction ratings hit 98%. Apple even approached the brand to partner and develop new features like Siri voice shortcuts and an integration with the watchOS 5 — which were showcased at WWDC, the Worldwide Developers Conference, in 2018.
“That extra touch of the barista’s face on your screen turns a simple transaction into something more intimate.”
Awards & Recognition
3 Big Takeaways
Efficient and personal
The magic of Philz Coffee stems from delicious drinks and highly-personal barista-to-customer connections. Our vision for digital was to recreate that experience on mobile phones —but without the wait. Just one click to order your go-to beverage, or swipe to try a barista-chosen recommendation. Select a time and location to pick up, and even see an image of the actual barista who made your drink.
We knew we had to make the barista tools just as special as the customer-facing app. By building a new custom ordering dashboard for Philz Coffee employees, we ensured the entire flow—from order to pickup— was efficient and delightful.
In early concepting, the team tried numerous approaches including designing a conversational interface reflecting the personal banter baristas would often have with customers. But with coffee, efficiency is key and the entire flow needed to be ultra fast.
Analysis of an entire year’s worth of customer orders yielded behavior patterns and uncovered opportunities to streamline orders with a predictive model for efficiency. For instance, we learned that there are two main types of customers. The first, “creatures of habit,” order the exact same thing, every day, though not always at the same store. The rest? They like to try something new every few orders. For those ordering the same thing each time, get them right into it by serving up that order as soon as you launch the app. Meanwhile, send the others an occasional heads up about new varieties and drinks to try.
Cutting-edge development process
Executing on digital transformation across online channels as well as retails stores required forming a single team directly with the CEO, head of digital and several senior leaders. In the first week of the project we brought together everyone involved to create an agreed-upon roadmap for the app’s development process, weighing the risks and rewards of potential platform choices.
We opted to build the app in ReactNative which, at the time, was new and relatively experimental. Since ReactNative shares 90% source code across iOS and Android, development work for both versions can essentially be done as one. The move allowed us to release to the App Store and Play Store near-simultaneously, and reach more Philz customers, no matter their device. It also proved to be more cost effective and paved the way for future updates and features to be device agnostic.
Built for growth
As Philz Coffee saw exponential growth with new stores across California and in new markets like D.C. and Chicago, ReactiveNative allowed for extra flexibility to help customize the app and dashboard as needed per market.
Honing the complete experience
A sophisticated logic system was built to optimize for customer demands against available resources in real time. Both the customer app and barista dashboard respond to dynamic updates to synchronize. The system prioritizes getting customers their drinks as quickly and easily as possible, accounting for each shop's queue, distance, and travel time.
The logic powers the barista drink dashboard system to keep things behind the counter running smoothly, accounting for an even distribution of labor, sufficient time allocated to each order, and stocked ingredients and products—all of which help ensure orders are perfectly brewed on time, served hot (or icy cold), and done right.
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