How Much Would It Cost To Build An App Like Starbucks

When it comes to food and drink apps, the Starbucks app is one of the most popular apps in the country. In fact, it’s ranked number 4 in the Google Play Store’s food and beverage category.

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to build an app like the Starbucks app? Read on to find out. You’ll also learn some tips to help you create this kind of app for your own business.

What Makes the Starbucks App So Special?

If you’ve never used the Starbucks app, you might be wondering what makes it so special. Do you really need an app just to order coffee?

Before we dive into the specifics of the Starbucks app cost, let’s break down some of its features and what makes it one of the country’s most popular apps:

Ease of Use

Why do so many people use the Starbucks app? One of the main reasons is that it’s so easy to do so.

The app has a very simple interface and intuitive design, so it’s easy for users to figure out how to review the menu and place their orders. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, but users don’t realize it because the ordering and checkout process is so seamless.

Robust Loyalty Program

The Starbucks app is an extension of the company’s robust loyalty program. Every time someone shops through the app, they can earn stars to cash in for a free drink or another menu item. This is a great way to get people coming back to the app (and making purchases) again and again.

Gamification Features

Many people enjoy the gamification element of the Starbucks app, which is coupled with its loyalty program. As app users earn more stars, they’re able to unlock different levels, each of which comes with unique gifts and benefits.

Location Features

Many people love that the Starbucks app offers a handy location feature, which allows them to easily track down the closest Starbucks to them. This is especially great for when people are on the go and want to order a drink but aren’t sure where to find a Starbucks. 

Time-Saving Order/Pickup Process

Through the Starbucks app, customers can order and pay for a drink in a matter of minutes. This streamlines their entire coffee-buying process and saves them a lot of time.

Gone are the days of waiting in line to order, then waiting around while your drink is made. People can place an order and have their drink ready for them to pick up as soon as they arrive at the store.

Nutritional Information

The Starbucks app provides a detailed breakdown of the nutrition information for each menu item. This is a very useful feature for customers who want to know how many calories, carbs, etc. they’re consuming. It also shows the company’s attention to detail and commitment to providing their customers with a good experience.


Customers love the music played inside Starbucks stores. Now, they can listen to it on the go or while working from home thanks to the Starbucks app’s connection to Spotify. Starbucks includes a link to their playlists that users can easily click on and enjoy from their own phones. 

Access to Customer Data

From a business standpoint, apps like the Starbucks app provide owners with a treasure trove of customer data. With this kind of app, you can gather information about your customer’s preferences, location, etc. You can then use this information to further improve your app, as well as your business’s other offerings, in the future. This allows you to provide a better customer experience and foster loyalty from those who patronize your business and use your app. 

How Much Does it Cost to Make an App Like Starbucks

The Starbucks app certainly has a lot to offer its users. How much does an app like this cost, though?

If you were to develop and launch an app like the Starbucks app, it would cost anywhere from $35K to $120K from start to finish.

That’s a pretty big price range, we know. However, pricing for a complex app like this depends on a lot of different factors, including the types of features you want to include, your timeline (how soon you want to launch the app), and whether you want to make it available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or both.  

Here’s a breakdown of how we got to that number to help you estimate more accurately what your business’s app would cost:


The first step to creating an app like the Starbucks app is to build a no-code prototype. A prototype is essentially a rough draft of your app. It helps you to test various features and figure out a plan for an app that your customers will actually want to download and use.

How Much Does Prototyping Cost? 

When it comes to building a no-code prototype, many of your costs are more time-related than money-related. It takes a while to design and test different aspects of your app and figure out what your customers are most likely to enjoy and use. 

You may have to invest in some tools (many of which come with a monthly subscription fee) to test different aspects of your app, too. For example, Zapier is a commonly used tool that helps you connect various apps. Subscriptions cost about $20 per month. 

MVP Design and Build

If, after creating a prototype, you decide that you want to move forward with your app (and find that it’s something your customers are actually interested in and want to use), you can start creating an MVP.

MVP is short for Minimum Viable Product. This is a functional version of your app that can be shown to investors and put on the market for your customers to download and use it. It may not be 100 percent finished when it’s released, but it should still be fully functional. 

When To Move On To An MVP

The process of creating an MVP can be quite expensive, especially when you’re building a high-performing, feature-heavy app like the Starbucks app. Before you move forward with your MVP, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I proved my assumptions about my customers and their preferences?
  • Have I received any helpful feedback from my customers or colleagues regarding the app idea or prototype? If so, how can I implement that into the finished product?
  • Do I have a sufficient budget? Most of your app-building money will be spent on the MVP development process, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough money saved to cover those costs

MVP Cost Breakdown 

Here’s an outline of what you can expect to pay, generally, when building an app like the Starbucks app. These are just estimates, of course, but they can help to give you an idea of how much you’ll need to have to create an MVP of your app:

Road Mapping Sessions

Road-mapping or discovery sessions are key parts of the app development process. If you want to feel confident that you’re building a high-quality app, you need to take some time to talk through your goals and vision for the app. 

Road-mapping sessions typically cost around $3,500. This might seem like a high price just to talk through your design plans and goals. These sessions are truly invaluable, though. When you take the time to lay the groundwork and explain what you’re envisioning early on, you can avoid miscommunications that could lead to additional expenses later.

Remember, road mapping sessions, ideally, will be very in-depth meetings. They’re followed up with intensive research from the developer, too.

When the prep work is finished, you’ll have lots of valuable information to work with, including a product roadmap, user flow diagrams, fixed prices, and a timeline for when the app will be finished.

Design And Building

After the road mapping sessions are complete, your development team will begin the design and app-building process. This is where the heavy lifting begins.

The design process includes the following:

  • Sketches and concepts, unpolished drawings that help the developers to visualize the app idea
  • Wireframes, which are similar to blueprints and outline the app’s layout and information placement.
  • Mockups, which are highly detailed and show what the app will look like once it’s fully developed

There’s a lot that goes into designing a complex app like the Starbucks app. Most developers will spend around 200 hours, if not longer, to finalize the design.

From here, the team will move on to the development process, which includes:

  • Documentation, which outlines what the code will do and creates a roadmap for the developers to follow
  • Setting up the environment where the code will be deployed
  • Automated tests to ensure all the code works properly
  • Manual testing and quality assurance to further ensure the code is doing what it’s supposed to do
  • Deploying to production so that others can access the app

A lot of steps are required to take an app from a mere idea and prototype to a full-fledged MVP. Now, how much will all of this cost you?

For the first version of the MVP for an app like the Starbucks app, the design and development process could easily cost somewhere around $70,000.

After reviewing the finished product, developers will then go back over the original product and update it with additional features. For the second version of the VMP, you could expect to pay somewhere around $49-$50,000 for an app like Starbucks.

Ongoing Maintenance and Support

Once the MVP is complete, you’ll still need to think about ongoing maintenance and support. If something goes wrong with the app, you’ll want to be able to reach out to your developer and get it fixed as quickly as possible, right?

The cost of ongoing maintenance and support for an app like Starbucks typically ranges from $2.5K to $5K per month.

This might seem expensive at first. When you consider how many features these apps include, though, and all the opportunities there are for errors to occur, it makes sense why you’d want to have support on standby to help you deal with these problems right away. 

How to Pay for Your App

Are you starting to hyperventilate a bit after looking at all those numbers?

It’s expensive to build an app. There’s no getting around that, especially when you’re building something as detailed as the Starbucks app.

The good news is that there are lots of ways you can pay for your app without having to write checks to tens of thousands of dollars all at once.

Here are some ideas to help you fund your app:

  • Share your prototype with investors to see if they’re interested in helping you to fund the app
  • Use the funds raised from pre-sales to pay for and launch the app
  • Start a crowdfunding campaign and invite your customers to contribute
  • Ask about financing

This last point is especially helpful. Digital Engage offers financing plans with low interest rates (sometimes as low as zero percent) to make the development process more affordable. Once you get a quote from us, ask your project manager to review our financing options with you to make the costs more manageable for a startup owner. 

Start Building Your App Today

If you’ve been wondering how to build an app like Starbucks, you now have a little more insight.

There’s no doubt about it. A lot of money and time go into creating an app like the Starbucks app. It’s worth the investment, though, if your app can provide your customers with as many positive experiences as the Starbucks app does.

Are you interested in building an app of your own? If so, you need to work with a talented, experienced development agency like Digital Engage.

We’re a leading development company with years of experience building all kinds of apps, including ones similar to the Starbucks app. If you’re interested in partnering with us, reach out today to learn more or to get a quote.

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