China has surpassed U.S. as Starbucks‘ fastest growing market and also the second largest with opening one store in China every 15 hours. Starbucks already operates more than 3,000 stores in the country and 2,000 more by 2021.
Focusing on China, Starbucks opened its 30,000 square-feet store, that is now their biggest cafe in the world, in Shanghai. Customers at this beautiful outlet settled on the West Nanjing Road shopping strip, now can watch beans being roasted, sample high-end brews and use a Starbucks augmented-reality digital app to interact with the store.
The Shanghai Roastery will also be the first of Starbucks’ 27,000 locations worldwide, and the first of its kind in China, to seamlessly integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience, powered by Alibaba’s Mobile Taobao app and the company’s augmented-reality (AR) technology.
“The affinity we have built with our partners [employees] and customers over the past 18 years in China is special, and we knew we must bring the Reserve Roastery, our boldest, most-premium store ever, to Shanghai,” said Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company, in a statement.
“The in-store AR integration is the latest digital innovation to come from Starbucks, which has become much like a tech company than a simple brick-and-mortar coffee retailer. It is also another example of Starbucks tying together a physical store experience with new technology” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson when announcing this at the GeekWire Summit in September.
“One, you must be focused on experiential retail that creates an experience in your store that becomes a destination for the customer,” Johnson explained when asked about what physical retailers must consider in 2017. “And number two, you have to extend that experience from brick-and-mortar to a digital-mobile relationship. So our approach to this is investing in elevating the experience we create in our stores, and investing in the digital-mobile connection we have with our customers.”