Having long considered itself the “third place”—somewhere between home and work—Starbucks is looking to create new customer experiences in the Web 3.0 digital technology space.
The chain said yesterday that it will create a “digital Third Place” later this year with an emphasis on blockchain assets like non-fungible tokens.
The move comes amid soaring demand for digital and drive-through orders, delivery and customized beverages—all of which are straining Starbucks workers and the ability of the chain to meet changing customer expectations.
“Ordinarily, we would have anticipated and invested ahead of the shifts we're seeing, but COVID disruptions interfered with our ability to make the required investments in store design, operations, infrastructure and technology to do so,” interim CEO Howard Schultz told financial analysts on a Q2 earnings call.
“As a result, we've been unable to meet the relentless demand we're seeing in our U.S. stores as seamlessly as our customers and partners expect and candidly deserve.”
Combined drive-through and Mobile Order & Pay transaction constitute more than 70% of store volume, while delivery is up 30% in the first half of the fiscal year.
“We will also be accelerating our new store growth, with 90% of new stores being high-returning drive-through,” Schultz noted. Despite the waning of the pandemic, “our customers are not using our stores the same way.”
Thus Starbucks is seeking to create a new model “of what it means to be connected to the Starbucks community” in the Web 3.0 world, the company said in a website posting titled “We’re creating the digital Third Place.”
The new “global digital community” will be defined by “collaboration, experiences and shared ownership” initially centered around coffee and potentially expanding into “many of the areas Starbucks has played in over the years.”
One particular area of interest for the chain is NFTs. According to the website posting, “We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership and allows for access to exclusive experiences and perks.”
Or, as CMO Brady Brewer said on the earnings call, “Imagine acquiring a new digital collectible from Starbucks, where that product also serves as your access pass to a global Starbucks community—one with engaging content experiences and collaboration all centered around coffee.”