Starbucks China slated to open new innovation centre in September

Starbucks China has confirmed its forthcoming innovation hub is on track to open next month as the American coffee powerhouse overhauls its approach to wooing Chinese consumers.

The Starbucks Innovation and Technology Centre (SITC) will be dedicated to “accelerating [ing] the digitization of Starbucks retail operations and omni-channel business in China” and is fittingly located in the tech hub Shenzhen.

A detailed breakdown of the new centre on the Starbucks website reveals the creation of novel “human-centric” coffee experiences driven by big data is at the core of the project, a clear sign that Starbucks believes experiential retail will be key to staying competitive in China.  

“Shenzhen is a hotbed of digital innovation in China and a leading example in the development of the Greater Bay Area,said Wang Jingying, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks China. “The Starbucks China Innovation and Technology Centre will fuel our digital innovation and constantly challenge us to create new experiences with coffee and keep people at the heart of our business through big data, insight analytics and other technologies.”

Starbucks is reportedly funnelling an initial 1.5 billion RMB (220 million USD) into the SITC over the next three years and is recruiting hundreds of experts in science and tech.

This autumn will also see the arrival of another landmark investment in the form of the Coffee Innovation Industrial Park near Shanghai, which houses state-of-the-art smart supply chain operations aimed at setting the standard for sustainable coffee production.

These plans come after homegrown rival Luckin surpassed Starbucks’ single-quarter revenue for the first time last quarter, the starkest sign of Starbucks’ slipping position in China’s increasingly cutthroat coffee market.

Starbucks currently has over 6,500 storefronts across 250 cities in China and aims to expand that number to 9,000 stores in 300 cities by 2025.


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