Starbucks on Friday announced a new virtual store in China that lets customers order their favorite beverages and food from the Seattle-based coffee company across multiple Alibaba Group mobile apps and Starbucks’ own China app.
The virtual store unifies Starbucks offerings inside Alibaba apps, including Taobao, Alipay and soon, Tmall. Alibaba’s technology underpins the unified experience.
The one-stop integrated hub is part of the ongoing collaboration between Starbucks and the Hangzhou-headquartered technology giant. It speaks to Alibaba’s effort aims to bolster its on-demand local services and is in line with Starbucks’ mission of inspiring and nurturing the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
The launch of the virtual store also exemplifies the capability of the “Alibaba Operating System” which aims to empower traditional retailers. After years of development in this digital age, Alibaba has created a unique system to support enterprises in the process of digital transformation that covers critical areas such as retail, marketing, finance and logistics.
“This ground-breaking digital collaboration with Alibaba Group unlocks new levels of engagement unseen in the marketplace today with customers,” said Starbucks in a statement.
Starbucks On the Move
In October, Starbucks piloted its first “Star Kitchens” within two Freshippo supermarket locations in Hangzhou and Shanghai. Star Kitchens leverages Freshippo’s fulfillment and delivery capabilities, with delivery time of 30-minutes or less, to further expand the scale and reach of Starbucks’ delivery service. Presently, the “Starbuck Delivers” program covers 2,000 stores across 30 cities in 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 customers,” said Molly Liu, vice-president of digital venture of Starbucks China.
The new Starbucks virtual store also lets customers buy gifts for their friends and loved ones via the “Say It with Starbucks” option. Apart from gift cards, the store features Starbucks items and merchandise, such as coffee beans and mugs, from the Starbucks Tmall flagship store.
The virtual store is a boon for customers who are interested in or have enrolled in the Starbucks Rewards Program. From membership registration, the redemption of benefits, to and a range of Starbucks branded offerings, the virtual store provides more avenues for customers to earn points from their purchases.
Starbucks said it expects the strong membership referral pipeline from Alibaba will help to fuel “an exponential growth” in its Rewards membership in China.