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Get ready for the future of Starbucks

Starbucks is preparing to serve up its future at its biennial investor conference on Thursday, one filled with new product delivery technology and more dinner foods.

The mission: get a caffeine seeker their daily drug wherever they exist while also becoming the happy hour joint of the new teen population.

A Starbucks spokeswoman did not confirm the meeting's agenda, except to say via email "several of these topics (food, same-day delivery) will be addressed during investor day." The agenda of the meeting will be different than those held in 2010 and 2012, where Starbucks focused on sharing an eye-popping number of new store openings globally.



And the tone of this year's meeting has to evolve -- since 2010, the smartphone and other portable devices have become the hub of a person's life. In the process, this has made it less necessary to visit a mall where a Starbucks is located, or even a J.C. Penney, where a Starbucks store is passed on the way. The need for Howard Schultz & Co. to begin implementing the Starbucks of 2020 is one part necessity, one part a means to stay out-front of all competitors in the industry.

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Here we take a look at what Starbucks could be poised to share.

Mobile Pay & Go

Starbucks impending launching of express ordering and delivery should reduce crowds.
Source: Brian Sozzi
Starbucks impending launching of express ordering and delivery should reduce crowds.

"We will drive a further step change in customer loyalty and engagement by extending express order and pay to include food and beverage delivery, yes, food and beverage delivery in select markets during the second half of 2015," remarked Schultz on Starbucks' Oct. 30 earnings call. Not only will Starbucks' express pay and delivery options help to address the shift in how goods are being consumed, but it should alleviate long lines inside the restaurant borne from an expanding, more complex menu. Mobile pay and go is likely to require Starbucks to add more employees and a separate station in its restaurants to handle the influx of real-time orders. Or, Starbucks could seek to partner with an Uber to handle the delivery process — the modern day yellow cab service is now integrated with the Starbucks app.

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Wildcard: Starbucks could finally announce that it's licensing out its best in class mobile-payment technology. "We are now receiving great interest in partnerships from mobile payment companies who see the value of our rewards program and the mobile payment behavior we established," pointed out Schultz on the call.

Starbucks Reserve Stores

"The first of hundred or more reserve stores we plan to open around the world, we will be opening in San Francisco very soon," said Schultz. He added, "and the roaster would be the first of several we plan to open in select markets around the world, beginning in fiscal 2016." Expect to get a feel of what these restaurants will look like this week, most likely very tech-friendly and using rich colors that scream luxury.

Consider this brand like Macy's owning Bloomingdales — it gives the company a premium brand that is generally shielded from the negative swings in the U.S. economy that often impact traffic at Starbucks locations. Furthermore, the store itself lends to expansion opportunities inside of luxury department stores, while tapping into the voracious demand for luxury goods in China.

Evenings menu

Starbucks
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Starbucks currently sells 10 small plate options as part of its Evenings Menu, including truffle macaroni and cheese and double chocolate brownie bites. The menu is rounded out with five selections of red wine, three white wines, a sparkling rose and proseco. Expect to hear a more comprehensive food and drinks menu, as well as the number of locations the menu will be in over the next few years.

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The broader food and drinks rollout will put Starbucks in competition with America's appetizer and drink hangouts Applebee's (division of DineEquity), Buffalo Wild Wings, and TGI Friday's. The dinner-fare, in particular, is also likely to cause Starbucks to begin implementing digital menu boards in its restaurants (to quickly change from morning to evening food options) and install a new food display case. To sell consumers on Starbucks as a dinner option, the company will have no choice but to present the food front and center, in effect bringing it to life off the menu board.

Other possible developments:

  • Broader food rollout, such as breakfast sandwiches and trail mix, at grocery stores.
  • A large new store opening plan for Teavana tea bars. There are 60 in existence currently.
  • More perks for Starbucks Rewards members.

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Commentary by Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi.

Disclosure: Neither Brian Sozzi nor Belus Capital Advisors own shares of Starbucks or any of the stocks mentioned here.