retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Starbucks yesterday announced a promotion designed to encourage shoppers to enroll in its loyalty program and pay with its Starbucks card - ten winners in the US will receive one item - a drink, salad or pastry - a day, for free, for 30 years.

In addition, the Seattle Times writes, "Starbucks also will start letting customers in Portland, Ore., order using their mobile phones before the end of the year, a service that will spread to the rest of the U.S. through 2015."

USA Today writes that "for Starbucks, it's all about tapping into its huge, Millennial customer base, who widely prefer to use their smartphones to make purchases as well as do pre-purchase research. At the same time, Starbucks has built a massive customer-loyalty program via its mobile payment app. Customers generally like it because they earn rewards such as free lattes and munchies for purchases. An estimated 15% of all Starbucks purchases are made with mobile devices, the company says.

And, the Times says, the company has loosened its restrictions on employees, saying they can have visible tattoos on their arms (but not on their faces or throats). "Multiple piercings — formerly a no-no — are now allowed, as long as it’s no more than two earrings per ear and a small nose stud," the Times writes.

According to the Times, "The moves come as Starbucks seeks to navigate two important challenges: consumers’ migration from malls to online shopping, and growing concern about the quality of retail jobs, especially as these, once considered temporary, are filling the gap left by manufacturing in the American economy. Starbucks has long offered benefits unusual in the retail sector, such as health insurance, even for part-timers, and stock. Recently it launched a program to subsidize online college education at Arizona State University for its baristas; the first 1,000 or so began classes Oct. 15.

"But the company has been criticized over relatively low pay and over inconsistent and hectic work schedules."
KC's View:
All good decisions, I think.

Frankly, I'm still sort of amazed that the tattoo thing was an issue. I just sort of assumed that a lot of Starbucks employees had tattoos … I didn't know they were covering them up until the potential policy change made news. That's something that a lot of companies are going to have to adapt to … tattoos have become a fact of life for many young people, and we're all just going to have to get used to it.