Business / Corporate

Starbucks to speed up digital services roll-out, CEO says during visit to Japan

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Starbucks plans to accelerate the roll out of digital services in Japan by introducing preorders and deliveries via smartphones, as well as cashless payments, visiting CEO Kevin Johnson said Thursday.

“If you think about consumer behavior today globally, the mobile internet and the explosion of mobile devices has created the opportunity for us to reach out and connect with our customers online on the mobile app,” Johnson said during his first appearance in front of Japanese media in Tokyo.

The coffee retail behemoth said it is starting its first delivery service by teaming up with Uber Eats Japan from Friday. The trial will be launched at a total of three shops, in the Shinjuku and Roppongi districts, allowing customers to use the Uber Eats app to order food and drink.

Starbucks Coffee Co. said that the Japanese delivery market has been growing and that it plans to expand its services in the next two years.

Starbucks also said it will partner with Line Corp. to strengthen digital services, such as cashless payment, next year. Details, including whether it will accept Line’s cashless payment platform Line Pay, remain unclear.

In addition, the firm is set to introduce a pre-order and payment service in 2019 that will allow customers to make orders and pay via smartphone before entering a shop. This will allow them to receive their drinks without waiting.

Starbucks, which entered the Japanese market in 1996, had 1,392 stores in the country as of September. Japan is its fourth-biggest market in terms of the number of stores, according to the firm.

The company has been opening about 100 new stores a year and will keep the same pace in next three years to boost the number to about 1,700 in 2021.

“The number one piece of feedback we get from customers in Japan is we need more seating, we need more stores,” Johnson said.

The company also said that while Starbucks plans to eliminate plastic straws at its stores globally by 2020, the Japan branch hopes to achieve that goal by mid-2020.