Peek Inside: Starbucks’ New Express Store Format

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Starbucks has opened a new store format dedicated to incorporating its digital Mobile Order & Pay and Starbucks Delivers experiences into physical cafes.

The coffee retailer opened its first Starbucks Now store in Beijing, China, offering a streamlined experience that allows both customers and delivery riders to pick up orders.

Starbuck’s Mobile Order & Pay option has enjoyed rapid adoption by customers, which challenged stores to keep up with the increased volume demands and introduced a new operational challenge. In 2017 former CEO Howard Schultz noted "when we introduced this, I don't think we had any idea that we would get the kind of response that we have gotten so fast.” He continued, "this is a great problem to have, and a problem that we know how to solve.”

The new Starbucks Now store, centered at the heart of Beijing’s financial district, is the company’s first express retail format location aimed at offering convenience and speed.

Customers entering the store will be greeted by a Starbucks barista at the elevated concierge counter to assist with ordering or order pickup. The menu of handcrafted beverage options is tailored for the on-the-go customer and limited seating is available.

For delivery riders, a dedicated area for Starbucks Delivers orders enables quick and easy pickup supported by baristas. Fulfilled Starbucks Now and Starbucks Delivers online orders are placed in a safe and secure in-wall system with a designated pickup portal associated with each order.

The store has the ability to serve as a centralized dispatch center for delivery orders within a certain radius so Starbucks baristas at neighboring cafés can focus on delivering service to in-store customers at those locations. During peak times, Starbucks Delivers beverage orders will be handcrafted by baristas from a central kitchen that is part of the Starbucks Now store.  

Starbucks China introduced the company’s mobile order and pay experience, Starbucks Now, in May across 300 retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai. Since its introduction the program has expanded to over 1,300 stores across four cities. In the U.S., Mobile Order and Pay represented 14% of company-operated transactions in Q4 2018.

The company said it plans to open new Starbucks Now stores across high-traffic areas including business and transportation hubs as well as to new cities in China.

“The Starbucks Now store is a testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering innovative customer experiences through new retail formats,” said Leo Tsoi, chief operating officer 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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