Restaurants

Starbucks expands Chinese order services to multiple Alibaba apps

Key Points
  • Chinese Starbucks customers can order the coffee chain's drinks on Alibaba's Taobao marketplace and mobile map app Amap, the companies said, expanding a partnership signed in 2018.
  • Starbucks' mobile pre-order and in-store pick-up feature, "Starbucks Now," previously only available on the coffee giant's own app, will be extended to four Alibaba platforms.
A customer drinks alcoholic coffee at a Starbucks Reserve coffee store in Pudong New Area on April 21, 2020 in Shanghai, China.
Yin Liqin | China News Service via Getty Images

Chinese Starbucks customers can order the coffee chain's drinks on Alibaba's Taobao marketplace and mobile map app Amap, the companies said on Tuesday, expanding a partnership signed in 2018.

Starbucks' mobile pre-order and in-store pick-up feature, "Starbucks Now," previously only available on the coffee giant's own app, will be extended to four Alibaba platforms, including local services app Koubei and digital payment app Alipay.

"The extended service enables Starbucks to engage with more Chinese consumers through multiple channels that tap into the Alibaba digital economy's user base of nearly 1 billion," Alibaba said in a statement.

Starbucks said in a separate statement that it hoped the new offering would provide China's coffee lovers with an added convenience.

Reuters reported that this Starbucks service was available on these Alibaba platforms on Monday. The Alipay and Koubei apps also offer the option to order Starbucks delivery.

Customers have since 2018 been able to order deliveries via Alibaba's food delivery app Ele.me under a partnership signed that year, which at the time marked the first time Starbucks offered a formal online delivery service in China.

Starbucks has said it expects sales in China, its biggest growth market, to recover by the end of September from a deep drop because of the pandemic.

Its online push contrasts with the declining fortunes of local rival Luckin Coffee Inc whose store numbers outnumbered Starbucks in China earlier this year until a setback caused by a fraud scandal.

In May, Starbucks launched a mini-program with Alibaba's rival Tencent on its chat app WeChat, allowing access to Starbucks' membership rights and delivery services.

The latest innovations coincide with efforts to kickstart sales as the Chinese economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns and as big U.S. companies see China as their best option for growth regardless of mounting political tensions between Beijing and Washington.