Starbucks is stepping up its classic stores with a heavy dose of digital. The chain, which already touts an app-ordering service, is trying out a new format called Starbucks Now in Beijing that blends traditional store traits with “Mobile Order & Pay and Starbucks Delivers customer experiences“. Here’s why the move might be bolder than it seems.
Besides acting as a tangible testament to its previous dedication to digital—the store snagged the top spot in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beverages & Beer US—Starbucks’ new venture differs from prior stores in one key way. Though loyalty members could already place orders in a few clicks from the app, picking them up was a bit more difficult as the chain’s stores weren’t originally designed with app users in mind. As such, hurried app users and leisurely store visitors alike crowded counters waiting for a cluster of different orders. Starbucks Now, on the other hand, has limited seating (primarily for delivery people) a menu curated for on-the-go customers, and a separate prep area for mobile orders.
Though the brand hasn’t revealed any plans to expand to the US yet, its China debut demonstrates a deeper understanding of the importance of mobile ordering and payment, which have become core parts of the Starbucks strategy. For example, the coffee shop had already allocated a special section on its site for its loyalty app, Starbucks Rewards, and has taken measures to continue improving the program, such as lowering the barrier to freebies and encouraging customers to try new items and buy favorites in streaks according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants.
Still, the new format speaks directly to an evolving type of consumer—on-the-go and made for mobile—but could also mean improved store operations overall. Ultimately, if mobile orders have their own space for preparation, this could mean fewer interferences with in-store experiences too.