If Starbucks could deliver a toasted white chocolate mocha to your door, would you pay for it?

The coffeehouse giant thinks yes. Starbucks, a digital leader in Gartner L2’s upcoming Digital IQ Index: Restaurants, recently stated it plans to bring the innovative delivery service model it introduced in China to the US.

The model integrates the Starbucks app into Alibaba’s digital ecosystem, resulting in a centralized experience that the brand hopes to perfect as it expands delivery to 1,100 stores in China. Due to re-engineered packaging and spill-proof lids, customers can expect their orders to be delivered and handed to customers at “the same temperature as if the barista just prepared it and handed it to them,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said.


While Starbucks has yet to offer its own delivery in the US, the chain already has a loyal base of digital customers. Mobile ordering and payment account for 14% of US transactions, according to the brand’s Q4 earnings report. To jumpstart domestic delivery, Starbucks recently launched a beta partnership with Uber Eats in Miami this past September. However, while Uber Eats allows Starbucks customers to customize their orders, it doesn’t let them include specific instructions (so you won’t be able to have that Frappuccino half-shaken) or suggest food pairings.

For best-in-class partnership implementation, Starbucks should see what Subway has accomplished through its Uber Eats partnership. On the Uber Eats product pages, users can both add written instructions and view suggested food pairings. As Starbucks continues to beta test delivery, it should aim to mirror app features on Uber Eats pages in order to achieve the seamless integration it’s already achieved in China.  

Register for our November 14 webinar to learn more about these findings. The briefing will also include data-driven insights and best practices specific to the restaurant sector to help inform brands’ digital marketing and e-commerce investment decisions.

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