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First Look: Starbucks unveils express store format

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Starbucks is trying out a new store model in one of its most important markets.

The coffee giant opened its first Starbucks Now location, in Beijing, China. The format is designed to offer a streamlined experience for customers who have pre-ordered online and also for delivery drivers/riders who are picking up online orders.

Customers entering the store are greeted by a Starbucks employee at an elevated “concierge” counter to assist with ordering or order pickup. They can choose from a menu that is tailored with on-the-go options. (Limited customer seating is also available.)

The new store features a dedicated area for Starbucks Delivers orders that enables quick and easy pickup by delivery drivers/riders. Fulfilled online orders are placed in a secure in-wall system with a designated pickup portal associated with each order.

The store also has the ability to serve as a centralized dispatch center for delivery orders within a certain radius so Starbucks employees at neighboring locations can focus on in-store service.

China is faced with growing competition in China from startups such as the fast-growing Luckin Coffee, which is aiming to open 2,500 stores this year. The chain, which currently operates some 2,400 locations across China, has fueled its growth with a tech-and delivery-centric small-store model.

Starbucks plans to open more Starbucks Now stores, in high-traffic areas including business and transportation hubs as well as in new cities in China. (Starbucks Now is also the name of Starbucks China’s mobile order and pay solution.)

“The Starbucks Now store is a testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering innovative customer experiences through new retail formats,” said Leo Tsoi, COO and president, Starbucks China Retail. “This new retail format and design approach provides us with a platform to offer customers a fast and convenient retail experience to suit their on-the-go lifestyle.”
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