Starbucks Partners with China’s Alibaba
In a first for the Seattle-based coffee chain, Starbucks is boosting its digital sales in China through an online store on Alibaba-owned Tmall, selling gift cards, coffee vouchers and personalized e-cards.
For Alibaba and Tmall, it’s a major global brand to add to a wider push for global options for its customers. It’s been adding brands such as Macy’s, Ocean Spray, Amazon, and Costco to Tmall, increasing choice for Chinese customers.
The new expansion onto Tmall builds off of Starbucks’ existing rewards program and mobile app – also home to such popular features as Mobile Order & Pay. A pair-up with the Chinese company, Starbucks hopes, will give it a boost with the new and emerging Chinese middle class – Alibaba’s core demographic.
The coffee chain isn’t the only U.S. retailer pursuing such a Tmall strategy. Costco and Amazon both have outlets on the site, while eBay uses Alibaba rival, JD.com.
“With the rapid development of e-commerce, more and more global renowned brands are partnering with ‘Tmall’ to bring to their customers a seamless premium experience, anywhere, anytime,” said Alibaba Vice President Jie Jing in comments on the announcement.
The Tmall global website first launched in February 2014. The on-line store announced a cross-border e-commerce initiative last June which saw 11 country-specific online stores being created, so that Chinese customers could search and buy products from the U.S. or the UK.
Chinese growth has been considerable for Starbucks in the last year. In FY2015, the company saw its comparable store sales grow nine percent. And that, according to the world’s most successful coffee purveyor, is just the beginning, with bigger growth expected through this year.