In the United States, Starbucks has announced that the company will be reopening 85 percent of its company stores this week with modified operations and hours, according to a letter published by CEO Kevin Johnson.

Starbucks had previously announced that it would have 90 percent of stores fully operational by June. This accelerated store opening plan sees Starbucks reopening 35 percent of its stores in just two weeks.

The coffee chain will also be adding new features to its app to make the new normal easier for social distancing consumers, including optimisation for curb-side pickup and entryway handoff where customers can order ahead of time and have their food and drink handed off to them without entering the store.

These curb-side pickup features won’t be available in all Starbucks locations, unfortunately, and Starbucks has not elaborated on how these new features will work.

“These adaptations will reinforce the concept of the third place, a warm and welcoming place, outside of our homes and our workspaces, where we connect and build community,” Johnson said in the letter.

“We think of the third place as a mindset, a feeling of comfort that uplifts customers everywhere, and in every way, they experience Starbucks. And the third place has never been more relevant than now, as communities seek to reconnect and heal.” 

Starbucks has said it will also be improving drive-thru experiences, enable ordering through Siri, and shift toward more cashless transactions to slow the spread of viruses and bacteria through handling cash.

“We predict that the mobile app will become the dominant form of payment,”  said Johnson.

The letter also hinted that the company would be further investing in technology in the form of the Starbucks Deep Brew program, which pushes artificial intelligence innovations.