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Starbucks Partners with Alibaba in Opening AR Roastery

Starbucks Partners with Alibaba in Opening AR Roastery”

Three years after the company opened its first roastery on its home turf, Starbucks is testing the larger, upmarket store concept overseas for the first time in China, where it now has 3,000 sites.

China has become Starbucks' second largest and fastest growing market, and one the company expects to eclipse the US market one day. Starbucks owns 3,000 stores across 136 cities, with 600 stores only in Shanghai.

It's the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai, a new installment of Starbucks's upscale Roastery concept that first opened in Seattle in 2014.

The Shanghai Roastery will also be the first of Starbucks' 27,000 locations worldwide, and the first of its kind in China, to seamlessly integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience, powered by Alibaba's Mobile Taobao app and the company's augmented-reality (AR) technology.

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And Starbucks is playing to that image with this new shop in Shanghai. The Shanghai location is Starbucks' second, and twice as large as the Roastery in Seattle. A Commessa (or culinary concierge) will guide customers through the breadth of offerings.

Starbucks announced it would expand its investment in China in July 2017 by sealing its biggest deal: the company planned to acquire the remaining 50% of its East China joint venture in a $1.3 billion transaction.

At the 30,000-square-foot store, the beans are roasted on site and the coffee is meant to be an experience.

The Roastery cafe includes three wooden coffee bars and a dedicated bar that offers China's traditional drink, tea. In the third quarter ending October 1, China's comparable store sales grew 8 percent, compared to a 2 percent global growth and 2 percent growth in the US market. Starbucks said, "while demonstrating deep respect for the thousands of years of Chinese tea tradition, the Starbucks® Teavana Bar reimagines a modern tea experience for customers who increasingly seek new and different tastes and experiences". Across the street in an office building is a much more basic Starbucks, because there seems to be a Starbucks on every major street corner in town.



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