retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports that Starbucks, which views the tea business as "a $90 billion market opportunity," is scheduled today to "open its first Teavana tea store and bar on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The debut comes as Starbucks expands its reach with new shops focusing on everything from premium tea to pressed juices ... Its new Teavana store will have a tea bar serving hot and cold drinks, including tea lattes and sparkling tea-based drinks. It also will sell food ranging from sweets to salads and flat breads as well as loose-leaf teas and merchandise such as teapots."

Starbucks bought Teavana last year for $620 million; the company had some 300 mall stores that sold loose leaf teas and teapots. The company is considering whether to add tea bars to some or all of those locations.

And...

Salon.com reports that Starbucks is working on a program that will connect its in-store coffee machines and refrigerators to the Internet, believing that it will improve productivity.

According to the story, "The firm is busy installing its cloud–based Clover coffee machines which connect via CloverNet to tell off–site maintenance staff when the equipment is under–performing, keep tabs on customer demand for certain items and update recipes digitally. There are even plans to hook up the firm’s fridges so that they know when, for example, the milk is going off."

The story notes that Starbucks has tended to embrace technology faster than many other companies, such as offering WiFi to customers and enabling payments via smartphones.
KC's View:
Just two more examples of how Starbucks continues to be aggressive, spreading its bets across the table on the one hand and looking for ways to be both more productive and efficient on the other.