Gift cards are great. They show you that the giver took enough time at the checkout line to think of a place that you’d like and lock you into spending a certain amount of money at that establishment. The only problem with the gift card idea is the transmission of funds. You have to carry around another de facto credit card. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a gift card in my wallet if I ever need to open a door, but I already have a Ralph’s card for that.
All you iPhoners out there already have the ability to load up your phone with Starbucks Starbucks giftcards, but recently, the iPhone’s ugly cousin, Blackberry, got the power as well. When someone gives you a gift card, you just enter it into the app and chuck the card in the recycle bin. Next time you order your French Press (seriously, it’s off menu, but go to a store and try it today) all you have to do is quit Facebooking long enough to open the Starbucks app. The barista on register will scan the barcode on your phone and you’re good to go. Technology, FTW!
I’m sure these types of apps will proliferate and evolve as each store tries to be the leader in mobile technology. I’d really dig some added functionality that would let you place your order on the phone then alert the store when you’re 5ish minutes away from the store (based on your GPS location). I think that might be getting into far future territory where everyone’s car folds up and we all have robot maids though.