Industry News | October 2, 2017 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

Starbucks Shuts Down its Online Store

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Unlike many companies investing in the digital marketplace, Starbucks is turning away from it altogether. At 11:59 pacific on Sunday, store.starbucks.com shut down, stripping customers of their ability to purchase Starbucks products online or by phone.

This included everything from flavored syrups to teas to coffee blends to tumblers, pressers, espresso machines, and more.

“You can purchase your favorite coffee and Starbucks merchandise in your local Starbucks. You can also purchase coffee on the Starbucks App for in-store pickup. And you can find Starbucks coffee to enjoy at home in your local grocery aisle,” the company said in a closure FAQ online.

Starbucks also ended its store.starbucks.com subscription programs, and, again, suggested customers visit local stores to find their favorite products, although it can’t guarantee availability in-store. Starbucks won’t accept store.starbucks.com returns in-store, either, although it will refund products online within 30 days of purchase.

Starbucks’ syrups and sauces are no longer available for retail purchase anywhere. Coffee can be bought on the Starbucks App for in-store pickup and is also being sold at grocery stores nationwide.

Maggie Jantzen, a company spokeswoman, told The New York Times that the brand is “continuing to invest in amplifying Starbucks as a must-visit destination and are looking across our portfolio to make disciplined, thoughtful decisions.” Starbucks’ “Mobile Order and Pay,” which allows guests to order and then skip the line, accounts for 9 percent of its transactions. Purchases through the mobile app make up a whopping 30 percent of U.S. transactions.

Retail has been an Achilles heel of sorts for Starbucks. The java chain announced in July that it was shuttering all 379 of its Teavana stores, citing lagging mall traffic and disappointing sales.

Following the brand’s third-quarter earnings, CEO Kevin Johnson outlined what he believes are the keys for any brick-and-mortar retailer to succeed in this field: “An emerging digital and mobile relationship with customers that is threaded into a branded and immersive experiential retail destination. Retailers who are agile and reimagine the art of the possible will be big industry winners. Those who do not will struggle mightily,” he said. “The evidence is clear that the pace of retail transformation is accelerating with a common theme: extending in-store experiences to include relevant digital scenarios.”

“Starbucks identified the coming seismic shift in retail years before it consumed the industry, and we are well positioned because we invested ahead of the curve to extend our global leadership around all things premium coffee and tea; develop world leading digital and mobile capabilities linked to loyalty; create experiential third place environments; and deep authentic connections among our customers, our partners and the communities we serve, providing an increasingly elevated and engaging Starbucks Experience,” he added.