Forty-eight days after signing a comprehensive strategic partnership with Alibaba, Starbucks Delivers finally went live this September.
On September 19, ele.me and Starbucks officially launched the trial operation of Starbucks Deliverss in some stores in Beijing and Shanghai. The plan is to expand the takeaway service to 2000 stores in 30 cities across the country by the end of the year following the trial operation, when the connection between the membership systems of both parties is established.
Prior to launching the takeaway service, there was widespread concern that the online ordering and takeaway service would challenge the existed mature supply chain management system of offline shops, damaging the quality and taste of the coffee, and Starbucks would lose its accumulated advantages of a good offline shop experience. None of us would like a cup of melted Frappuccino or a cup of cold coffee from a takeaway service.
At the inaugural event of the comprehensive strategic partnership between Alibaba and Starbucks in August, Alibaba’s CEO said the two sides had several discussions in a year of negotiations on how to shorten delivery times, mobilise the latest Starbucks stores and design transportation equipment. So far, the last solution proposed by ele.me and Starbucks is to develop new ice packs for takeaway coffee and to create a delivery channel for Starbucks products.
Hot and cold drinks have a strict temperature requirement. The brand-new takeout delivery ice pack designed and developed independently by ele.me, is made of TPU material on the outside and combined with ice film and ice plate refrigerant inside. According to ele.me, the material and specially designed new ice packs can be kept at 5 degrees at normal room temperature for up to 6 hours. These takeaway ice packs are enough to deliver Starbucks cold drinks to customers within 30 minutes.
In addition to the new ice delivery packs, ele.me has built an exclusive delivery team for Starbucks. To ensure the service quality of the riders, the 20-person delivery team of ele.me conducted a closed test for more than three months before starting the service. When customers place orders, riders are required to pick up the product offline from Starbucks and keep it in a special incubator and ice pack during delivery. Ele.me and Starbucks also designed the riders’ required etiquette during delivery of the order.
At present, Starbucks delivery service is available on the ele.me APP and the Starbucks APP and will be added on the new retail platforms of mobile Taobao, Alipay, Hema and Koubeiin the future. By the end of the year, Starbucks customised “Starbucks new retail smart store” will be connected to the Starbucks star club membership system. The membership system will be fully integrated with Alibaba’s new retail products.
To ensure taste and service, both ele.me and Starbucks have to bear higher costs. Alone the takeaway package is already much more expensive than the regular one. A Starbucks takeaway lid costs 10 times more than a regular lid. Starbucks, ele.me and customers have to pay for the high package cost. The delivery fee directly reflects the increase in costs. At present, the delivery fee is 9 Yuan per order, which is higher than the ordinary takeaway.
For Starbucks, partnering with Alibaba is an important step in reversing its sales decline and launching a digital upgrade. For Alibaba and ele.me, the partnership with Starbucks means reaching more consumers in the mid and upper price segments. This is good for creating new consumption scenarios in the future.
Compared to Meituan, the quantity and quality of the shops on ele.me is also slightly inferior. Being associated with Starbucks coffee and stringent delivery conditions will make it more acceptable to high-end retailers and compensates for the lack of quality and quantity of stores.
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