Chinese internet giant Alibaba is partnering with Starbucks to deliver coffee in China as part of a pilot program launching in September.
The trial is part of a wider strategic deal between the two global companies and will involve businesses across Alibaba’s ecosystem including delivery service Ele.me, supermarket Hema, payment platform Alipay and online stores Tmall and Taobao.
The service will start with 150 Starbucks stores in Beijing and Shanghai and will expand to 30 cities and more than 2,000 stores by end of 2018. The 30 minute delivery service will leverage Alibaba-owned food delivery platform Ele.me which has 3 million registered delivery riders.
Starbucks will also set up “Starbucks Delivery Kitchens” within Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets to fulfil the online orders, furthering expand the scale and reach of Starbucks delivery.
The two companies will “co-create an unprecedented virtual Starbucks store” and a central hub to manage the service across multiple digital platforms.
Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer, Starbucks Coffee Company said “Starbucks is growing and innovating faster in China than anywhere else in the world.”
“Our transformational partnership with Alibaba will reshape modern retail, and represents a significant milestone in our efforts to exceed the expectations of Chinese consumers. Starbucks China is one to watch, and I have full confidence in the team that will bring the new innovation behind the Starbucks Experience to life,” Johnson said.
The strategic partnership is part of Alibaba’s broader New Retail push unveiled in 2016, which aims to modernise retail across China by more closely aligning digital technology and physical stores.
“Alibaba is thrilled to expand our existing partnership with Starbucks by leveraging our cutting-edge New Retail infrastructure and digital power to enable an unprecedented experience for consumers. This partnership is again a testament to the success of our New Retail strategy,” Daniel Zhang, CEO of the Alibaba Group said.