The following ideas explore three very specific ways that Starbucks can transform its current experiences. Each of these ideas has an overarching exploration of the larger idea, followed by a number of tangible examples of how that idea could manifest itself through space, service, and experience redesign or the implementation of new technology. These ideas can be used to inspire creatives around the country as they imagine and create the next future of retail for brands of all kinds.
1. An App That Enables A Faster, More Efficient And More Personalized Coffee Experience
Put the current Starbucks app on steroids to deliver an experience that seamlessly makes the entire in and out of store experience better for all customers by transforming what’s currently a fairly one-dimensional experience that provides standard information such as store locations, rewards, and gifting options, into a multi-dimensional experience that enables people to have a faster, more efficient and more personalized coffee experience. Starbucks can create a new stream of deep and trusted communication enabled by technology. There is tremendous potential to integrate and design around NFC, geotagging, rich and layered data capture, interest-based marketing and personal communication in a way where the technology fades into the background and functionality takes precedence to enable an entirely new coffee experience.
The new app would allow customers who are on-the-go the option of ordering and paying for their drink before they even step foot into the store, or for those who just want a drip coffee, a way to quickly serve themselves and pay before going about their day. Further, the app would allow regular customers to have their drink of choice ready and waiting at the same time every day, with the NFC sending a signal to baristas to prepare the customer’s drink as soon as they enter the local area.
At retail and lifestyle centers, the new app would allow shopping customers to order drinks from anywhere in the center and have the order delivered to them through geotagging. For groups, the new app would enable seamless ordering from multiple accounts onto one order, which would then be prepared in readiness for a scheduled pick-up time. Through data-capture and interest-based marketing, the app would send relevant offers to people based on their location, time-of-day and overall preferences. And finally through the ability to personally communicate, the app would facilitate personalized communication from Starbucks and even from baristas— creating and reinforcing a true sense of community and a one-on-one relationship.
2. Locally Rooted In The Region & The Community
Build on Starbucks’ recent push to differentiate their stores by creating experiences that are truly rooted regionally and within the community. By artfully incorporating regional tastes and preferences, Starbucks can deepen its already strong relationship with customers and integrate itself into the local community. And in doing so, Starbucks can also begin to fight the problem most global brands increasingly face—homogeneity—by giving each region a true sense of unique identity, which in turn will give customers a reason to visit more often, fall in love further, and become bigger fans of a brand they already love.
A new focus on regional and community experiences would open up the opportunity for Starbucks to partner with chefs in creating new beverages and food items locally to reflect that community’s preferences. It would also enable regional tastemakers to influence the content at each Starbucks, curating a selection of iPad books, magazines and video content that inspires and engages the people of the local community. And from a purely aesthetic point-of-view, this new focus on local would allow each store to bring in hand-crafted elements from local artisans and makers—including outdoor furniture, art, reclaimed tables and chairs, and more. Outside the stores, this new focus would allow Starbucks to put itself in the center of people’s journeys to new cities.
Through an artfully crafted mapping program, Starbucks would allow customers to curate an experience centered around store locations whether that’s arriving in NYC for the first time and wanting to see the sites, or heading across the country on an epic road trip. Who needs Google Maps when you can map via Starbucks and always know where you can find your favorite drink along the away?
3. Redefining The Third Place Once Again
More so than any other retailer, Starbucks has crafted a true third-place—a place other than people’s homes and offices where they can come, relax, spend time and hang out with other people. But increasingly, that third-place has become either an office-outside-the-office, or in many cases, a primary office for those who are choosing to work outside of traditional spaces. Starbucks can take advantage of this by crafting a new third-place specifically designed to help people work better, faster, more efficiently and in ways that suit who they are and what they do. And in doing so, Starbucks can create ever-stronger bonds of connection and relevance with customers through experiences made specifically for them.
From opening up workplace specific stores, to private rooms in current Starbucks stores, to tables simply equipped to facilitate working, Starbucks can take a layered approach to becoming the next third-place. In workplace specific stores or in stores with private working rooms, customers would be able to reserve space ahead of time—removing uncertainty while being able to arrange for Starbucks food and beverage catering. For tables better equipped to facilitate working in current stores, customers would be able to order drinks right from their table—eliminating the need to get up and go to the counter. These work-from- Starbucks customers will also be able to access faster internet speeds than those typically offered to the casual browser. And through a workplace rewards program, customers who use Starbucks as their office—either on a ongoing or temporary basis—would get special offers from both Starbucks and partner brands whose services complement the overall experience.