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Starbucks launches roadside pick-up at stores in China

Starbucks Curbside has been launched at 150 stores in Beijing and Shanghai, offering 'elevated' convenience for customers travelling by car

Starbucks Curbside will be rolled-out to more than 1,000 stores across China over the next year | Photo credit: Starbucks


Starbucks has partnered with web navigation company Amap to launch Starbucks Curbside in China, a hybrid drive-thru pick-up channel for customers travelling by car. 

Starbucks Curbside uses Amap’s real-time route planning and positional tracking technologies to estimate customers’ arrival times at designated pick-up points. 

Upon placing an order online or via the Starbucks app, the digital platform generates a collection site and time based upon a customers’ journey, enabling staff to prepare beverages ahead of arrival. 

Starbucks said the innovation extends its third-place concept from in-store and at-home to ‘on-the-road’.  

Starbucks Curbside is currently available from 150 stores in Beijing and Shanghai and will be rolled-out to more than 1,000 stores across China over the next year. 

“Designed to help customers navigate the hustle and bustle of urban lifestyles in China, Starbucks Curbside exemplifies our relentless pursuit of innovation in service of our customers. We have created a revolutionary new retail channel, offering customers elevated convenience enabled by Amap’s precise geographical positioning and time estimation technologies,” said Judy Zhang, Vice President of Digital Ventures, Starbucks China. 

“On arrival, customers only have to roll down their car windows to receive their favourite handcrafted Starbucks coffee on time and with the same quality, along with a warm greeting by our waiting Starbucks partner, just as if they were enjoying it in-store,” Zhang added. 

Starbucks Curbside follows the expansion of Starbucks Delivers across China as the coffee chain competes with pick-up and delivery-focused Luckin Coffee. 

In January 2022, Starbucks expanded the reach of its mobile order and delivery service, Starbucks Delivers, via a partnership with Chinese e-commerce platform Meituan.  

China is Starbucks’ second largest market, with the Seattle-based coffee chain operating 6,090 stores across the country as of the end of its first quarter 2023.  

Starbucks reported sales in China declined 31% to $622m in the three months ended 1 January 2023, as a result of Covid-19 restrictions between October and November 2022.   

However, with most Covid restrictions in China lifted in December 2022, the coffee chain is seeking rapid expansion across the country and plans to increase its Chinese footprint by 50% to reach 9,000 outlets by 2025.  

Leading the competitive Chinese branded coffee shop market, convenience and value-focused Luckin Coffee ended 2022 with its first annual profit, 67% year-on-year sales growth and more than 8,200 outlets nationwide.  

China’s largest coffee chain reported opening 478 new stores in January 2023 to exceed 8,400 outlets across China and is currently seeking to expand its franchise operations to 41 third and fourth-tier cities.    

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