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Starbucks China Partners With Meituan To Connect Customers to Stores Online

Starbucks customers in mainland China will now be able to book Starbucks stores and have their coffee delivered to their doorstep with just a tap on their smartphones.

Credit: Starbucks

Starbucks China recently announced that it would launch the first of its many services that would allow customers to "seamlessly" connect with its local stores and "curate an individual Starbucks experience both online and offline". Previously, Starbucks had an exclusive food delivery partnership with Alibaba Group's service platform.

Thanks to the company's new partnership with Meituan, China's biggest food delivery platform, Starbucks China is expected to increase its availability in the country. Meituan's share price also rose 5.3% after the news broke, before dipping back down.

Meituan riders in front of a Starbucks store in China. Credit: Starbucks

In addition, customers in China ordering using Meituan's app will have access to one of the company's new services, Starbucks Delivers. The service gives customers more options to customise their coffee. Starbucks Rewards members can also enjoy the same benefits as using the Starbucks China app through Meituan's app.

Starbucks also made use of Meituan's Super Store feature to "expand the connections involved with community building to the digital realm". As such, the company is working to have a unique page for each of its 5,360 stores in China on Meituan platforms by the end of 2022. These pages will allow customers to access the previously mentioned services and Starbucks Now and enable them to order food and drinks alone.

A Manner Coffee branch in China. The company uses a takeaway-only business model to provide customers with high-quality coffee at reasonable prices. Credit: Manner Coffee

Starbucks's partnership with Meituan and its expansion comes as competition in the Chinese beverage market intensified since April 2021 due to the rise in prominence of local beverage chains such as Manner Coffee and Hey Tea. Foreign brands like Tim Hortons and Italy-based Illycaffè have also been stiff competition for Starbucks in China.

The partnership may also have resulted from the current surge of COVID-19 cases, which forced Starbucks to close several of its stores in the country, leading to a 7% decline in sales in the company's fourth fiscal quarter for the year 2021.

A Reuters report mentioned that China Market Research Group Director Ben Cavender said that these factors convinced Starbucks to be aggressive in promoting delivery. He also said that the company has "enough competition from other coffee players that if a consumer doesn't see their stores available in a chosen app that they will simply defect to another brand."


Written by John Paul Joaquin

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