Starbucks has teamed up with Microsoft to develop a blockchain-based supply chain system and a mobile app that will enable sourcing and tracking of its products.
The announcement comes after Starbucks launched a digital transparency initiative in March which states it is improving its supply chain by ensuring transparent and ethical sourcing of coffee beans.
Tracking Coffee from Farm to Cup
Starbucks is aiming to re-invent its supply chain by leveraging blockchain technology to track products from “farm to cup”. The digital, real-time traceability will allow customers to have a holistic view of their coffee beans products. In other words, the company is providing greater transparency into its supply chain. This means more growers contracted by Starbucks will see where their beans end up.
The coffee supply chain traceability system uses Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service. In addition, the Azure technology will enable real-time recording transactional data and coffee shipments throughout their journey. In addition, the company will develop a mobile app that allow customers to see how their coffee was sourced. Additionally, this includes information where it was grown, and what Starbucks is doing to support growers in those areas. Therefore it will document important information including the coffee roasting process and tasting experiences.
Michelle Burns, SVP of Global Coffee & Tea at Starbucks states:
“I firmly believe that by empowering farmers with knowledge and data through technology, we can support them in ultimately improving their livelihoods.”
The Future of Blockchain and Starbucks
Starbucks continues to lead the way in traceability solutions using blockchain technology. Above all, the company is likely to begin employing blockchain technology in other areas of its retail strategic planning. In addition to the coffee-tracking systems, Starbucks will also be working with Microsoft to provide predictive drive-thru ordering. Additionally this involves connecting Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled equipment at different Starbucks locations.
In August 2018, Starbucks announced it was partnering with Bakkt in order to use Bakkt’s platform to accept crypto payments in its coffee stores. Bakkt is a digital asset platform with development by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). It goal is enabling “consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network”. The move will see Starbucks install Bakkt’s payment software in its branches. In turn this will allow customers to pay with digital assets like BTC.
It is not clear why Starbucks chose Microsoft over other BaaS solutions. However, it is a move that strengthens the partnership between the two companies.