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Starbucks pickup-only store: what future of Starbucks will look like

  • Starbucks opened its first-ever Starbucks Pickup store in November, a pickup-only location that lets customers order ahead through the chain’s mobile app and pick up their orders in-store.
  • The pandemic has forced the coffee chain to lean into the pickup-only store format. Starbucks plans to shut around 400 sit-down cafes and build around 300 new pickup-only stores.
  • I visited the Starbucks Pickup store in Manhattan, New York, and was impressed by the concept.
  • Pickup’s speedy, high-tech system for ordering coffee could definitely transform the fast-coffee industry. But Starbucks needs to make the concept more accessible to walk-ins, and the company must work hard to build customer awareness before the Pickup concept will run as smoothly as it’s supposed to.
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The days of meeting in a warmly-decorated Starbucks and mulling over Excel spreadsheets over a frappuccino are over, for now.

The pandemic decimates dine-in traffic for restaurants, and Starbucks is responding by shifting a large portion of its business to the pickup-only format. Over the next 18 months, the company plans to close 400 company-owned locations and open 300 new ones. The new stores will largely be pickup-oriented stores.

Back in November 2019, Starbucks launched a futuristic pickup-only store, called Starbucks Pickup. Starbucks Pickup allows customers to order their drinks ahead through the Starbucks app, then come to the store to pick them up. There is no seating inside or outside. Now, a look inside Starbucks Pickup gives us an idea of what the 300 new Starbucks may look like.

“Our customers who are on-the-go have told us that connection and convenience are important to them,” Starbucks’ vice president of urban markets, Katie Young, said in a press release for the launch of the new format.

I went to the first-ever Starbucks Pickup store in Manhattan on its opening day in November to see what the experience was like:

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