Alibaba Group today announced that Starbucks China has introduced its mobile order and pay feature “Starbucks Now” for four Alibaba platforms including e-commerce marketplace Taobao, mobile map app Amap, local services platform Koubei and online payment platform Alipay.
By activating “Starbucks Now” through any of these apps, users can pre-order and pay for their Starbucks’ drinks and food online, and then pick up in-person at offline stores across the country. Previously, this service was only available through the Starbucks China mobile app.
“Through this partnership, we will continue to support Starbucks in expanding its digital service offerings across China to meet ever-evolving customer preferences and create long-term value,” said Toby Xu, vice president of Alibaba Group in a company statement on Tuesday.
The extended service enables Starbucks to engage with more Chinese consumers through multiple platforms that tap into a total of 1 billion users under the Alibaba Digital Economy.
China’s largest e-commerce company and the Seattle-based coffee brand started a strategic “New Retail” partnership in 2018. Starbucks China collaborated across key businesses within the Alibaba Digital Economy, including leveraging Ele.me’s on-demand platform to pilot delivery services in Beijing and Shanghai, and partnering with Hema supermarket to create “Starbucks Delivery Kitchens.”
The new announcement will give China’s growing number of coffee drinkers the convenience of having their online orders ready for pick-up at the store location of their choice, especially after the pandemic when the lockdown severely disrupted much of China’s offline retail. As the country bounces back from COVID-19, retailers are seeing an uptrend in foot traffic while online business remains robust.
As coffee consumption in China grew at an average annual rate of 16% in the last decade, international coffee chains are rapidly expanding in the mainland market, according to data from International Coffee Organization. Starbucks has already planned to enter 100 new cities by 2022, while its U.K. rival Costa Coffee has intended to open 1,200 stores in China over the same period.
Earlier in May, Starbucks launched a mini-program on Alibaba’s rival Tencent’s social media app WeChat, but only allowing take-out services and access to membership services.
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