Global coffee chain Starbucks plans to offer an integrated physical and digital CX (customer experience), in order to transform its store portfolio in the US. These changes are being accelerated by Starbuck due to a significant shift in the retail environment driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein customers are looking for convenience, connection and personalisation through a digital experience.
“Starbucks stores have always been known as the ‘third place’, a welcoming place outside of our home and work where we connect over a cup of coffee,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO, Starbucks. “As we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we are accelerating our store transformation plans to address the realities of the current situation, while still providing a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers.”
Over the next 18 months, Starbucks will increase convenience-led formats in company-operated locations with drive-thru and curbside pickup options, as well as Starbucks Pickup locations. These store experiences are powered by the Starbucks App, which is integral to ordering and paying ahead.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, approximately 80% of Starbucks’ transactions in the US were on-the-go, driven in part by the ability to order and pay ahead using the Starbucks App. While the pandemic has disrupted customer behaviour, the company’s strong digital relationships, combined with the ability to adjust locations through store renovations, relocations and new builds and add new store formats, are unique strengths that Starbucks will lean into as part of this plan. This strategy aligns closely with rapidly evolving customer preferences, including higher levels of mobile ordering, more contactless pick-up experiences and reduced in-store congestion, all of which naturally allow for greater physical distancing.
Following strong sales and enthusiastic customer and partner response, the company has committed to the expansion of the Starbucks Pickup store. These locations are intended for customers in dense metropolitan markets looking to order and pay ahead using the Starbucks App on the way to their next destination.
In addition to Pickup stores, customers will soon be able to utilise curbside pickup from their car. Customers will use the Starbucks App to order and pay ahead as well as check-in at designated parking spots at the store once they arrive. Over the coming months, Starbucks will increase the number of stores that offer Curbside pickup as well as pilot a select number of locations to exclusively offer this format.
The drive-thru is Starbucks’ original on-the-go experience. The company plans to continue to expand and enhance the drive-thru for customers including opening new locations outside of densely populated cities and in new markets. Starbucks will also design new experiences that could include double-lane drive-thru or drive-thru plus curbside pickup, all of which would leverage the ordering and payment capabilities of the Starbucks App.