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Starbucks yesterday announced a major expansion of delivery services in the US, saying that by spring 2019 it expects some 2,000 of its stores to offer delivery.

The Seattle Times writes that “the deliveries will be made by Uber Eats, which began shuttling coffee from Miami Starbucks locations to customers in September. A limited pilot in Japan began last month. But the real model for Starbucks Delivers is China, where delivery, offered by a subsidiary of Chinese commerce giant Alibaba, has grown from 150 stores at the end of September to more than 2,000 Starbucks locations in 30 cities now.”

While Starbucks has played around with delivery in the past, this time is expected to be different: In China, Starbucks has developed spill-proof lids, tamper-proof packaging seals, insulated delivery containers, and algorithms to route orders to the best location to fulfill them. It also has trained delivery drivers from Alibaba’s Ele.me delivery service on how to handle its products.” At the same time, the company said that “the service is being integrated into the company’s ordering systems to minimize extra steps for baristas to fulfill orders.”
KC's View:
I’m not sure that using Uber Eats is the best way for Starbucks to do this … again, it outsources a really important part of the customer experience to a third party. At the same time, it removes the importance of the third place.

That said, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And Starbucks seems to have the right mindset - that this is early days, and there is much to be learned.