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Starbucks vending machines and the future of business

September 14, 2012
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starbucks logo Starbucks vending machines and the future of business

Starbucks automates, starting in the UK

There are two basic types of people in this world – those who prefer human contact and interaction and those who prefer to avoid it through the use of automated systems. In a world of increasing technology, the latter group has more opportunities for their preferred method of interaction than the former. And it’s time to add one more company to the list – Starbucks.

Starbucks has always been known for in-person interaction. It might be quick and intimidating for those not used to the Starbucks pace and vernacular, but it’s always been about person-to-person contact. But now Starbucks is offering an automated service for those looking for convenience and a less hectic environment, a Starbucks vending machine.

These vending machines will be available in the United Kingdom and will have 280 possible drink combinations to choose from. They will have touchscreens and customers will get to play a game while they wait for their order.

What does this mean for business?

sbux Starbucks vending machines and the future of businessAt first thought, this is a convenient and unique advancement. But there might be a deeper meaning to all of this. Global automation is becoming more and more a reality. As the years go by, society has found more ways to cut out human interaction and replace it with technology, which has its benefits and its drawbacks.



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The benefit for businesses is obvious. Having an automated system means you don’t have to pay wages, bonuses, or even overtime—not to mention no medical insurance or other incentives for being fully employed. However, it’s not so beneficial for the worker, which is also obvious. Global automation means fewer job opportunities and higher unemployment rates. Increased automation means the absence of that personal touch and a lacking of being able to relate to your business, your workers, and your product.

Depending on your business and your customer base, automation may ultimately help your company expand and garner an even bigger group of customers, but it can also alienate the majority who are still looking for that human interaction. So, before you follow in Starbucks’ footsteps, take a careful and thorough analysis of your professional goals and your target market, and then you can decide if increased automation will ultimately help or hinder your professional growth.

AGBeat Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.