Retail Technology

Starbucks Opens Fully Immersive Coffee Wonderland in China

Starbucks_Roastery
Mark Angus
Written by Mark Angus

Customers who enter the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai will be greeted by a multi-sensory coffee experience in an interactive retail destination.

The Roastery combines augmented and virtual reality into an immersive experience. As customers enter they are greeted by a two-story, copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops, or stamps, hand-engraved to narrate the story of Starbucks and coffee.

As part of their experience, customers can visit many attractions including one of three coffee bars offering multiple brewing methods. They can also explore specially-crafted teas at the 3-D printed tea bar and enjoy freshly baked Italian artisanal food by Princi.

Howard Schultz in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China

All along the way, customers can point their mobile devices around the Roastery for moments of discovery as they immerse themselves in the augmented reality (AR) experience. Integrating this technology into the store, in one of the world’s busiest shopping destinations, makes it one of the most advanced digital locations for Starbucks in the world.

“We knew we must bring the Reserve Roastery to Shanghai, China’s bustling metropolitan hub and one of the world’s most dynamic retail destinations, as well as a gateway to customers from across Asia and the world,” says Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company. “We’ve created a space that both recognizes and celebrates our 46-year history of coffee and retail innovation with China’s rich, diverse culture.”

A Theatre of Coffee

Starbucks_Roastery_ShanghaiDistinctive, small-lot Reserve coffee which Starbucks sources from more than 30 countries around the world, will be roasted in China by eight highly trained Chinese coffee roasters. Customers can watch the green beans as they are roasted, then sent through copper “symphony” pipes (named because of the musical sound the beans make as they travel through them). The beans are sent directly to silos at the coffee bars where customers can enjoy a fresh cup of Reserve coffee, or to the in-house pack line to be packaged for distribution across Starbucks Reserve stores in China.

Augmented Reality Experience

The Shanghai Roastery will become the first Starbucks location, and the first-of-its kind in China, to seamlessly integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience. Roastery customers are invited to immerse themselves in the first Starbucks augmented reality (AR) experience – accessible through the custom-designed Roastery digital web-app platform or on Alibaba’s Taobao app.

Customers simply point their mobile devices at key features around the Roastery to bring to life information about the Starbucks bean-to-cup story. To help customers create their personal Roastery discovery journey, the Roastery digital web-app platform also incorporates a digital menu. This will intuitively, through AR technology, share details of the coffee bars, brewing methods, as well as other online and offline experiences. Each step of the way, customers unlock a virtual badge and once all badges are earned, they receive a custom Roastery filter to commemorate the moment and share on social media. The Shanghai Roastery digital experience is designed by Starbucks and powered by Alibaba Group’s scene-recognition technology.

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