Starbucks and Alibaba Group Form Strategic Partnership to Transform the Customer Experience in the Coffee Industry in China

Starbucks Alibaba

Marking a significant milestone for the two companies, Starbucks and Alibaba poised to enable a seamless Starbucks Experience through deepened partnership

Starbucks Coffee Company and Alibaba Group today announced a deep, strategic “New Retail” partnership that will enable a seamless Starbucks Experience and transform the coffee industry in China.

Collaborating across key businesses within the Alibaba ecosystem, including, Hema, Tmall, Taobao and Alipay, the coffee brand announced plans to pilot delivery services beginning September 2018, establish “Starbucks Delivery Kitchens” for delivery order fulfillment and integrate multiple platforms to co-create an unprecedented virtual store – an unparalleled and even more personalised online experience for Chinese customers.

The announcement marks a historic moment as two iconic, global companies build on their distinct retail and technology strengths to revolutionise the customer experience. Leveraging the Alibaba ecosystem and New Retail infrastructure, the brand will be able to further unify a seamless experience between its stores and online for customers.

“Thanks to the elevated customer experience delivered by our over 45,000 partners, Starbucks is growing and innovating faster in China than anywhere else in the world,” said Kevin Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Starbucks Coffee Company.

“Our transformational partnership with Alibaba will reshape modern retail, and represents a significant milestone in our efforts to exceed the expectations of Chinese consumers. Starbucks China is one to watch, and I have full confidence in the team that will bring the new innovation behind the Starbucks Experience to life.”

Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of the Alibaba Group, said, “Starbucks is more than a destination for premium coffee and we share the same vision to pioneer a new coffee culture and lifestyle through innovation and technology. Alibaba is thrilled to expand our existing partnership with Starbucks by leveraging our cutting-edge New Retail infrastructure and digital power to enable an unprecedented experience for consumers. This partnership is again a testament to the success of our New Retail strategy.”

The strategic partnership is part of Alibaba’s broader New Retail push, which aims to transform how commerce is conducted by merging online and offline experiences. New Retail was introduced by Alibaba in 2016 and has since become a hallmark strategy of the retail industry.

A key strategic initiative under the partnership is the development of a pioneering, first-of-its-kind virtual brand store in China. This digital partnership will see Alibaba develop a centralised online management hub, with the unique capabilities to integrate and deliver a consistent Starbucks Experience across multiple digital platforms.

This innovation will transcend the traditional limitations of a single-app visit by providing the consumer an elevated, and even more personalised Starbucks digital experience across the brand’s app and Alibaba’s customer-facing mobile apps, including Taobao, Alipay, Tmall and Koubei.

This latest innovation will revolutionise the traditional offline-to-online model by effectively extending the reach of the experience into the everyday lifestyle ritual of the Chinese consumer, regardless of time or place.

Whether it is at home or in the office, within a Starbucks store or online, the brand’s customers will be able to access and enjoy a one-stop experience when purchasing merchandise online, buying a handcrafted beverage to be delivered to a friend or sending a gift of love on the “Say it with Starbucks” social gifting platform.

The brand will progressively integrate its Starbucks Rewards (SR) membership platform onto the centralised system to leverage its consumer insights to deliver a truly personalised experience to its customers, whilst establishing a strong foundation for the future development of the brand’s digital experiences in China.

The brand and Alibaba are trusted business partners who share common values in the spirit of innovation and the unrelenting pursuit of product and service excellence. This deepened partnership is a significant step as both companies partner together to elevate the customer experience across China.

Starbucks was a four-time Global winner of the World Branding Awards in the Retailer-Coffee category.