Tea preferring China is about to become a coffee capital of the world, Starbucks the company that brought Latte and Frappuchino to every street corner and made sipping coffee fashionable has struck a major deal with Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce behemoth to serve, deliver and retail Starbucks branded drinks to 1.2 billion Chinese.
Both company are collaborating across key businesses within the Alibaba ecosystem, including Ele.me, Hema, Tmall, Taobao and Alipay, while Starbucks announced plans to pilot delivery services beginning September 2018, establish “Starbucks Delivery Kitchens” for delivery order fulfillment and integrate multiple platforms for virtual Starbucks store. Currently there are 4500 physical outlets in the country and with the new agreement the expansion into digital retailing could see Starbucks cups in more palms.
The strategic partnership is part of Alibaba’s retail push after conquering the online retail space merging both online and retail to give consumers a seamless experience. Amazon has been engaging on the same path with it’s offline business and Alibaba seems to be following suit.
It will also see Ele.me delivery service which has 3 million registered delivery riders taking orders for home delivery in Beijing and Shanghai with plans to accelerate and expand its delivery program to more than 2,000 Starbucks stores across 30 cities by the end of 2018.
A first-of-its-kind virtual Starbucks store is also in the works, which will see Alibaba develop a centralised online management hub, with capabilities to integrate and deliver coffee across multiple digital platforms. Customers can use their existing app to purchase, have delivered or even gift a cuppa to their friends via the online platform.