Starbucks’s official online delivery store was launched on Ele.me Wednesday, 48 days after Alibaba and Starbucks’s official announcement to cooperate on new retail business.
The delivery service, for now, is only available from 10 stores in Beijing and Shanghai. However, according to Ele.me, the delivery service will cover the two cities entirely by the end of October, and by the end of the year, the service will be expanded to 30 cities in China and more than 2,000 offline stores will support the delivery.
According to the company’s press release, Ele.me set up an exclusive delivery team, dubbed Starbucks Delivery (专星送), which can fulfill an order within 30 minutes. For cold drinks, Ele.me said it also specially designed a new type of ice pack and thermally insulated box that can keep the temperature inside the delivery box under 5 degrees Celsius for 6 hours. It is not clear if there is a special box for hot drinks.
The delivery fee for Starbucks Delivery is RMB 9, almost doubles the average RMB 5 delivery fee on the platform. “We are targeting people who pursue quality lifestyles and who are fans of Starbucks,” Ele.me told TechNode and thus, for those people whom a few RMB won’t be a significant problem.
As for the third-party purchase service providers (星巴克代购) on Ele.me, the delivery platform said it will respect customers’ choices on where they will get their Starbucks, but the platform emphasized the quality of the official delivery will be better since it’s completed by professionals who are better equipped and supported by professional logistics.
Starbucks announced they would collaborate with Alibaba on August 2 to drive its growth in China, whose sales were reported in June to be flagging after the US coffee giant cracked down on third-party delivery service providers.
Another threat towards Starbucks comes from the newly emerged local coffee unicorn Luckin Coffee, which has opened hundreds of stores in 14 cities. The perks of Luckin Coffee are coupons that allow consumers to buy a cup of coffee at less than RMB 10, a lot cheaper than Starbucks Coffees, which are usually priced at RMB 30 on average.
After the cooperation between Alibaba and Starbucks, another Chinese tech giant Tencent signed “smart retail strategic agreement” with Luckin Coffee to explore the “new retail” trend.