Starbucks Tests Out Cash-Free Location

Jan 18, 2018

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Cash no longer is king at the Starbucks inside downtown Seattle‘s Russell Investment Center: Starting today, the store only accepts cards or mobile-pay, although there is no sign formally announcing the policy.

“The test will help us understand how cashless forms of payment may impact our customer experience,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told the Seattle Times. The Russell Investment Center store is currently the only Starbucks to go cashless, although the company hasn’t specified how long the test will run, nor if it will be expanded to other locations. 

The second-floor cafe shares space in the same corporate building with real estate brand Zillow as well as Russell, an international financial firm.

“I would expect in that location that cash represents only a tiny percentage of business anyhow,” Jonathan Zhang, a University of Washington marketing professor who consults with retailers on e-commerce and mobile payments, told the Seattle Times. Zhang speculates that Starbucks is “not giving up much” by going cashless — maybe 5 percent or less of total transaction volume — because the location’s clientele is predominantly white-collar workers who tend to use plastic.

Thus far, customer reactions have been mixed.

“I don’t carry cash anymore either. It’s just easier, card and all the receipts, are in one place. I know how much I spent,” Starbucks customer Ambarish De told local news station KIRO 7.

However, other customers were wary of the idea.

“I think it’s kind of limiting. It’s assuming everyone is going to be using a smartphone or a credit card. Not everyone is on board with that,” Starbucks customer Sean Smith said.

The tip jar by the Russell Center sales register, however, will still happily accept your bills.

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