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The Starbucks app is so popular it may be bruising their business

(BUSINESS NEWS) Many look up to the Starbucks brand as a trend setter, but they’re rethinking their mobile innovations as sales suffer – what now?

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The magic of virtual ordering

I never understood coffee memes until I started working retail and it became my lifeblood. When it’s too busy where I’m working for any of the employees to duck in the back to make coffee or wait in a line, we love the Starbucks app.

It’s great for Saturday mornings when there’s already a line outside of the door. Instead of completely panicking, my fellow employees and I turn to the magic of virtual ordering.

bar
I can’t be gone long enough to wait in line, but I can dart to the nearest Starbucks and back in record time.  It’s like I’m going for the gold in speed walking. I walk in, grab extra sugar packets and straws, shout thanks to the lovely baristas, and power back to home base. It feels like having a Disney FastPass — I get to zoom past the line and get my treats while everyone else is stuck in line.

Balancing customers’ needs

With the Starbucks app, you can customize things that you’d normally feel too needy to ask about in person. I can get two pumps of vanilla instead of the regular four without feeling like I’m annoying the baristas. However, the convenience of the app means people are zipping in and out of the store quickly, which isn’t good for business.

There have also been problems balancing the needs of in-store customers with those who ordered through the app.

Last quarter, baristas had trouble keeping up with the massive influx of orders from the mobile app. This caused backups, leading some walk-in customers to leave due to the extended wait time.

Additionally, the less time customers spend in the store, the less likely they are to make impulse purchases.

As one of the first adopters of a mobile payment system, Starbucks is pioneering the industry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s entirely working out for them quite yet.

Sales took a dip, now what?

Last quarter sales were abysmal, partly due to a change in the company’s loyalty program.

With the previous system, customers received rewards for each transaction, leading some people to break up huge orders into individual transactions. Starbucks switched from a transaction-based system to a dollar-based one to root out those who were backing up lines with multiple transactions. Apparently people were pissed about their new star earning potential, contributing to a slump in national sales.

However, changes to the app may help increase customer satisfaction and keep people buying things in-store and via app. Too much demand is actually a pretty good problem to have. In fact, according to Reuters, AB Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore describes it as a “high-quality problem.”

Starbucks figured out how to get people into its stores and hand over their money. Now they just need to sort out the volume problem with the app.Click To Tweet

So far, several stores have added one or two baristas specifically focused on mobile orders and payments during peak hours. Starbucks’ spokesperson Linda Mills also noted that executives are considering testing out notifications alerting customers when their orders are ready. This would alleviate some of the back up at the in-store counters that are often filled with people who over or underestimated what “ready in 3-7 minutes” really means.

While I’m not always a fan of Starbucks’ business practices, I’m a huge fan of hybrid ordering. So I hope Starbucks works out their app issues so other companies can successfully follow their lead.

#SBUXapp

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Business News

How employers should react to the new age discrimination court ruling

(BUSINESS NEWS) A court case that could likely land in the Supreme Court is one that all employers should react to and prepare for.

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In January, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that then 58-year-old Dale Kleber did not get protection against age discrimination from CareFusion as a job applicant.

For employers, there are some important takeaways. Namely, that Kleber v CareFusion does not give employers open season to only hire young workers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees against age discrimination. There are also protections against disparate treatment under ADEA.

Basically, employers cannot intentionally discriminate against aged applicants. When posting a job, that means you should never advertise for someone under the age of 40 when posting job descriptions.

While Federal law may not apply to older applicants, the Texas Labor Code,  for example prohibits discrimination against people over 40 years of age. Employers should be very aware of inequity throughout the hiring process, whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates. You do not want to be a test case for age discrimination.

How can you avoid violating ADEA and other applicable laws?

First, you should work with your legal counsel and HR department to make sure you are following the law. If you are accused of age discrimination, you should talk to your lawyer before responding. It’s a serious complaint that you shouldn’t try to answer on your own.

Next, go through your job postings to make them age-neutral unless there is a reason for hiring someone under the age of 40. The legal term for this is Bona Fide Occupational Definition. The qualifications can’t be arbitrary. There must be industry standards that determine a definable group of employees cannot perform the job safely.  

Words in applications matter. Don’t ask for GPA or SAT scores. Avoid things like “digital native,” “high-energy,” or “overqualified.” These terms indicate that you’re looking for someone young.  

You should also update application forms that request birthdays or graduation dates. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, you should structure interviews around skill sets, not personal information.

Train those responsible for hiring about the current laws in your state.

Make your managers aware of bias, both conscious and unconscious. It’s not age discrimination that runs afoul of the law, and you must be prepared to confront any situation where it occurs.

Talk about age bias and discrimination in your workplace. Don’t assume that older workers aren’t tech savvy or that they don’t want to keep their skills current. Instead of putting generations against each other, have a multigeneration workplace.

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Business News

Cities are fighting back against the motorized scooter companies

(BUSINESS NEWS) The scooter wars are on, and major cities are filled with them – residents and government are finally fighting back.

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When the scooter-pocalypse began, it seemed to come out of nowhere. One day, the most annoying thing in downtown traffic was maybe a pedicab, and then the next: a swarm of zippy electric razor scooters.

This sudden arrival was by design: companies like Lime and Uber’s JUMP simply just began offering their services. There was no negotiation with the city, no opportunity even for residents to say whether or not the scooter pick-up stations could be located in front of their houses—just a sudden horde of scooters (for the record, this do-it-first and then ask permission approach was replicated in all major cities across the United States).

Was this illegal? Nope. There was nothing on the law books about the rental scooter technology so there was technically nothing wrong with the companies just assuming that they could do what they wanted. (Some scooterists have since come to think the same thing, committing crimes and breaking rules.)

Now, enough time has passed for cities to have the opportunity to fight back, as a new year of legislative sessions has begun. San Francisco is one such community, which determined that only permitted companies could operate within the city limits—and, surprise, many of the don’t-ask-permission companies were not given these permits.

Lime, blocked from operating, filed a suit against the city saying that they had been discriminated against based on their … rude … arrival.

A judge has since ruled that there was no bias in the city’s review of the permit applications that were later not awarded to Lime.

As the legislation and the lawsuits play out over the next year, it will be interesting to see if the scooter company’s attitudes toward the cities they operate in change.

If, as they have said all along, they desire to be the next major innovation in urban infrastructure, then they need to be prepared to work with and grow alongside the communities that they inhabit.

It would be a wise move, then, to partner with local governments to ensure that both organizations are working in the best interest of the populations that they serve. 

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One state could make it illegal to ask a job applicant’s age, graduation dates

(CAREER) A recent court ruling makes ageism against job applicants legal, but at least one state is taking action.

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In late 2018, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 8-4 that Congress intended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to only cover current employees, not job applicants during late 2018 with the case Kleber v. CareFusion Inc.

The verdict seemed to confirm what many older applicants have experienced: while they may have the necessary qualifications for a position they are often overlooked for younger candidates. The confirmed legality of such dishonorable bias is disheartening.

One state is stepping up to rectify this practice: Connecticut. Democratic Reps. Derek Slap of West Hartford and Robyn Porter of New Haven have proposed legislation that would fight ageism in hiring processes by making it illegal for employer to ask applicants for their dates of birth or school graduation dates.

According to the Hartford Courant, when asked about the legislation’s intention, Rep. Slap replied that such questions, “allow employers to vet our seniors before they even go in to their job interview.”

Candidates who may be older and entering the job market should keep their wits about them. While they are creating and reviewing their resumes and cover letters, they should reach out to other people in their field and make sure that they aren’t using dated conventions.

If they are pressed to provide information that indicate their ages during in-person interviews. Even if the questions are technically legal, applicants can try to assuage fears of being out-of-touch wit current market trends or technology by coming prepared to the discussion ready to highlight recent projects or experiences that illustrate on-the-pulse market fluency.  (For more tips on how to deal with these kind of awkward situations, check out this article.)

The initiative that Connecticut has taken in addressing this problem is likely to inspire more lawmakers across the country to follow suit.

But we don’t have to wait for it to be illegal for people to understand that this practice is unfair. If you are not an older candidate but an existing employee (and therefore covered by laws that say age discrimination is illegal), keep an eye out for how you, your colleagues, and your company speak about more experienced workers.  Sometimes the quickest way to change harmful practices is by having a direct conversation about an uncomfortable topic. 

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