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Starbucks creates unified virtual store in China via Alibaba technology

By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor



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December 14, 2018 | 3 min read

Starbucks has launched a virtual store that ties together all of its digital services into one place in China.

Starbucks Roastery
Starbucks and Alibaba take partnership further with virtual store

The service uses Alibaba technology to create an online experience for customers that were previously disjointed across several apps. It brings together the Starbucks app and mobile apps within the Alibaba ecosystem, including Taobao, Tmall, and Alipay.

Starbucks Roastery

Starbucks and Alibaba take partnership further with virtual store

For customers, having one place to find Starbucks services is an improved experience but, for Starbucks, it allows the brand to better track its success with sales via a single access point. These services include, Starbucks’ digital offerings such as “Starbucks Delivers,” “Say it with Starbucks” social gifting and merchandise available from Starbucks’ Tmall flagship store, as well as Starbucks Rewards.

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According to Alibaba, this move is the latest in a long-standing partnership on omnichannel retail between the two businesses. In August, the two brands announced a collaboration around a delivery service in China via Alibaba is also behind a lot of the technology in place in China’s flagship Starbucks Roastery interactive store in Shanghai.

This year, Starbucks also started testing ‘Star Kitchens’ that sit within tech-enabled supermarket brand FreshHippo (or Hema). With a “back-of-house” presence at the stores, Alibaba says it can use the delivery and technology fulfillment to deliver hyper-personalised products to consumers quickly in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

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