Starbucks is linking up with eCommerce giant Alibaba to begin trialling a coffee delivery service and introduce a ‘more personalised’ online portal for Chinese customers.
Working with Alibaba’s online food delivery platform, Ele.me, Starbucks will launch pilot delivery next month in 150 stores in Beijing and Shanghai – with an eye on expanding the service to over 2,000 stores in 30 cities across China by the end of the year.
In order to fulfil the demand of the delivery service, Starbucks has also partnered with Hema supermarkets to establish ‘Starbucks Delivery Kitchens’ – where the delivery of Starbucks beverages will be complemented within Hema stores. The first of these delivery kitchens are planned to be open in select Hema stores in Shanghai and Hangzhou next month, with plans to open up in more cities eventually.
“Our Chinese customers have a high expectation of their Starbucks experience and we are proud to introduce a premium delivery experience that reflects the same service and quality they’ve come to love and expect from us in our stores – we will never compromise,” said Belinda Wong, chief executive officer at Starbucks China. “More significantly, through our partnership with Alibaba, we are breaking the physical and virtual barriers between the home, office, in-store and digital space.”
In addition to the delivery service, Alibaba will develop a centralised online management hub for a virtual Starbucks store in China. The platform will be aimed at delivering a more personalised experience across the Starbucks app and Alibaba’s mobile apps, including Taobao, Alipay, Tmall, and Koubei.
The partnership is part of Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ strategy which was introduced in 2016 to merge online and offline shopping commerce experiences across China. The strategy recently saw Alibaba’s Tmall team up with Intersport to introduce a range of innovations at the Chinese sportswear brand’s flagship store in the Qianmen region of Beijing.