The world-leading coffee chain Starbucks will further enhance digital collaboration with Alibaba Group by launching its first virtual store in the world.
The news conference for the strategic partnership between Starbucks and Alibaba is held in Shanghai on Aug 2, 2018. (Photo: chinadaily.com.cn)
The move will offer digital resources from the Alibaba ecosystem -- including Taobao, Alipay and Tmall -- an expansion from Starbucks' current digital offerings.
The virtual store, an online management hub developed specifically for Starbucks by Alibaba, is expected to integrate the company's digital offerings, including "Starbucks Delivers," "Say it with Starbucks" social gifting and the Starbucks Tmall flagship store, onto one interface for Starbucks customers and more than 600 million mobile monthly active users on Alibaba's China retail marketplaces.
For example, a customer now can order beverages, food and physical merchandise from the virtual store and get them delivered at the same time.
Molly Liu, vice-president, Digital Venture, Starbucks China, said: "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 consumer, while extending the accessibility of our digital innovations into the everyday lifestyle rituals of our customers.
Starbucks expects that the strong membership referral pipeline from Alibaba will help to fuel an exponential growth in its rewards membership in China.
Xu Hong, vice-president of Alibaba Group, said that the company's 740 million members will be offered access to Starbucks' experience, coupled with Alibaba's new retail infrastructure and digital power.
The virtual store will provide more ways for Starbucks customers to earn stars in the Starbucks Rewards program for their purchases.
The "Starbucks Delivers" program, in partnership with the Ele.me on-demand delivery platform, has expanded to 2,000 stores across 30 cities since launching three months ago.
In October, Starbucks also piloted its first "Star Kitchens" within two FRESHIPPO (previously known as Hema) supermarkets in Shanghai and Hangzhou. Star Kitchens provide additional scale, reach and delivery of Starbucks handcrafted beverages and food within 30 minutes.