MOBILIZING

The future of Dunkin’ Donuts looks a lot like Starbucks

America runs on.
America runs on.
Image: Reuters/Jamal Saidi
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Earlier this week, Dunkin’ Donuts unveiled a glimpse of its future less than a mile from the original location in Quincy, Massachusetts. The first “next generation” concept store is a brighter, airier, hipper reboot of Dunkin. “Donuts” has been dropped from the name, only the third store to do so. Servers pour drinks from beer-tap-like dispensers, and donuts sit in glass cases. There’s a designated mobile pick-up area in the store, and a dedicated mobile-order drive-through lane outside.

The future of Dunkin’ Donuts, in other words, looks a lot like Starbucks.

Aside from its own sleek branding, Starbucks has long staked its fortunes on mobile. The company’s mobile app and its mobile order and pay system are both key components of its operational success. In the fourth quarter of 2017, mobile order and pay made up 10% of transactions at company-owned stores in the US, up from 7% a year earlier. Mobile pre-ordering, which is designed to let customers skip lines, is so popular at Starbucks that staff struggled to keep up for a while, forcing Starbucks to add more baristas focused on mobile orders during peak hours.

Dunkin’ is now eyeing mobile for its own success. “On-the-go mobile order and pay is a—we think is a big unlock of a number of things,” David Hoffman, Dunkin’ Donuts president for the US and Canada, said in November. Mobile, he explained, lets consumers engage with the restaurant as much or as little as they like. In recent quarters, it’s made up 3% of Dunkin’s quarterly sales and had a retrial rate that tops 70%. “Once they try on-the-go mobile ordering, they really stick,” Sherrill Kaplan, VP for digital marketing and innovation, said in July.