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Starbucks Coffee Vending Machines Arouse Questions of Too Much Automation

According to an article featured on on September 14, 2012 there are reports of Starbucks introducing its very own coffee vending machines.  The new Starbucks vending machines will initially be available in the United Kingdom and will have nearly 280 possible drink combinations to select from. They will also have state of the art touch screens and will give customers the option to play a game while waiting for their selection.

Up in Arms

What may seemingly appear to be a great idea and a way to avoid those endless drive-thru lines while on the way to work in the morning has some people up in arms, protesting that global automation is becoming too much of an everyday reality. Is a Starbucks vending machine the next stop on the journey toward a world with no need for actual human interaction? Some believe that technology is taking the place of human interface in an increasingly less humanized and more mechanized existence.

Pros and Cons

There are a number of reasons why a company like Starbucks would prefer to go the route of vending machine services rather than face-to-face services. Employees are expensive. Automated systems eliminate the need for payment of wages, bonuses, overtime, insurance, and holiday gifts. On the other hand eliminating jobs isn’t the most economically friendly approach and the workers who may lose their jobs to coffee vending machines might not appreciate it. It may also increase unemployment rates at a time when unemployment rates are skyrocketing.

However, vending machine services have been around for years and have always been considered a fun convenience. So why is the new Starbucks vending machine inciting such complaints? Not only is the growing absence of personal touch, but also the fact that Starbucks has one of the most massive customer bases in the world. This leaves many feeling like this newest Starbucks automation advancement may leave that large customer base feeling cold despite their warm beverage.

To Automate or Not to Automate

Regardless of what side of the issue you identify with, it’s an interesting scenario to keep in mind if deciding to automate your business. Whether it’s through the use of a vending machine or automated email or telephone responses, although it may garner more customers it may be leaving some customers cold that may just want a friendly face or warm voice.