Starbucks will push the boundaries in digital innovation with the launch of its first-of-its-kind virtual Starbucks store in China. This ground-breaking digital collaboration with Alibaba Group unlocks new levels of engagement unseen in the marketplace today with customers. By transcending the traditional limitations of a single-app, to provide customers a unified one-stop Starbucks digital experience across the Starbucks app and customer-facing mobile apps within the Alibaba ecosystem, including Taobao, Tmall and Alipay. The virtual store is brought-to-life by an online management hub, developed specifically for Starbucks by Alibaba, to integrate the Company’s market-leading digital experience offerings, including “Starbucks Delivers,” “Say it with Starbucks” social gifting and the Starbucks Tmall flagship store, onto one seamless and easy-to-use interface for Starbucks customers and more than 600 million mobile monthly active users on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces.
“For 20 years, we listened intently to the aspirational lifestyle needs of our customers and consistently challenged the status quo to elevate their mobile Starbucks digital experiences,” says Molly Liu, vice-president, Digital Venture, Starbucks China. “Leveraging the strengths of our transformative strategic partnership with Alibaba Group, this new milestone in the Starbucks digital strategy will significantly fuel our capabilities to provide an even more personalized and enticing one-touch digital experience for the Chinese consumer, while extending the accessibility of our digital innovations into the everyday lifestyle rituals of our customers, regardless of time or place.”
"Enabled by the unprecedented access to Alibaba's ecosystem, a first for one of the most dynamic and inclusive digital ecosystem in China, the virtual Starbucks store sets a new standard in 'New Retail' experience for the Chinese consumer," adds Xu Hong, Vice President of Alibaba Group. "Alibaba's cutting-edge New Retail infrastructure and digital power, coupled with Starbucks distinctive customer experience philosophies, will undoubtedly push the boundaries for our 'New Retail' strategy. I am thrilled to deepen our partnership with Starbucks by exploring new innovative ways to elevate the experiences for our customers."
The virtual Starbucks store will enable an elevated “Say it with Starbucks” social gifting experience. For the first time, in addition to purchasing a digital beverage gift card, a customer can also add on a physical StarbucksTM gift, such as exclusive Starbucks merchandise from the Starbucks Tmall flagship store. Customers can also choose to use “Starbucks Delivers” and an Ele.me rider will deliver a Starbucks handcrafted beverage within 30-minutes. What was previously available across many digital apps, now can be completed within a single access to the integrated virtual Starbucks store.
From membership registration, the redemption of benefits, to an extensive range of Starbucks branded offerings across multiple digital platforms, the virtual store will provide more ways for Starbucks customers to earn Stars in the Starbucks Rewards program for their purchases. More significantly, Starbucks expect that the strong membership referral pipeline from Alibaba will help to fuel an exponential growth in its Rewards membership in China.
Building on the positive customer trial the “Starbucks Delivers” program, in partnership with the Ele.me on-demand delivery platform, has expanded to 2,000 stores across 30 cities since launching three months ago. This pace of expansion and reach is unprecedented in the history of Starbucks. In October, Starbucks also piloted its first “Star Kitchens” within two FRESHIPPO (previously known as Hema) supermarkets in Shanghai and Hangzhou. Star Kitchens provide additional scale and reach for fulfillment and delivery of Starbucks handcrafted beverages and food within 30-minutes, while preserving the third-place experience for customers at Starbucks store locations.
As a coffee leader deeply-rooted in China for the past 20 years, Starbucks is committed to leveraging the latest digital innovations to create new ways to deepen its engagement with its customers, and to delivering an exceptional Starbucks Experience that is unrivaled in the market.
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