By the end of 2017, Starbucks opened its world’s largest store in Shanghai, China, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. With more than 30,000 square meters of storefronts, Roastery is Starbucks flagship for utilizing the use of virtual reality (AR) experiences at the store.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery brings customer experience to a whole new level. In fact, the Starbucks is quite packed and lack of somehow we call an experience, an art, an inspiration. Starbucks quickly grasped this challenge as well as an opportunity by launching two more lines of premium stores:

  • Starbucks Reserve (with barista and bar so customers can interact directly and enjoy the blending process), and the Princi chain;
  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery is on top of the pyramid with high-end features such as extensive space, operating like a coffee factory and equipped with technology
The Starbucks coffee shop segment.

Roastery is a classic example of innovation in the retail industry of Starbucks in China. This is the company’s fastest growing market with over 3,000 stores in 136 cities. Starbucks has more than 600 stores in Shanghai – the largest number of stores in any city in which Starbucks is present.

Visitors to the Roastery will be amazed by the open, beautiful architecture with the entire ceiling is the hexagonal wooden blocks. The most important thing is that customers are able to experience the process of coffee production, from the period of brewing coffee to the finished product, and they can interact baristas. This whole process added much value to the coffee.

Some photos of the Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai (Source: Starbucks)

All of these great experiences combined with the technology will create especially special moments for customers. Starbucks has created this miracle by applying Augmented Reality technology. In Shanghai Roastery, Starbucks seamlessly integrates the customer experience in real time, at the store and online. Customers entering Roastery will be invited to experience the AR technology through the download of the application platform of Roastery or on the application of Alibaba’s Taobao.

An overview of the application experience at Roastery

The user will be guided to unbox the magic things at Roastery via the application. They experience AR technology by scanning embedded QR codes around the Roastery store to get insights into every detail, from the coffee beans to coffee mugs. They also are guided how to make each type of coffee, the origin, methods of incubation, etc.

Customers can explore the process of producing coffee, the origin of coffee through the smartphone.

In each area, the customer unlocks the virtual badge, and once all badges have been earned, they receive a Roastery filter that remembers the moment at Roastery. Afterward, they can share it on the social media. The Shanghai Roastery Digital Experience is designed by Starbucks and is backed by Alibaba’s image recognition technology.

Customers will also not have to to queue at the counter. They can just go to the Menu on the application, or using a smartphone pointing up an icon on the ceiling of the counter to see Menu . When the order is ready, the customer will be notified via the app the place to get the order.

Finally, the payment is extremely smooth when you can choose a method of payment without cash. Customers can also obtain electronic invoices by filling in company information, tax codes. This electronic invoice will be emailed to the customer later on.

Customers can obtain an electronic invoice at Roastery.

This experience also extends to Alibaba’s online marketplace, Tmall, which allows customers to purchase goods and coffee for direct delivery to their home or to sign up for a special coffee tasting experience at Shanghai Starbucks Roastery.

Emily Chang, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Starbucks, China states that Roastery is like Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka. “It’s one thing to imagine a fully integrated in-store and digital experience, which brings together the impressive scale of the Shanghai Roastery with the highest quality small-lot coffee beans. It’s quite another to watch the AR experience get built, and come to life.”

With AR technology, Starbucks brings the experience of the store to new level and blurs the boundaries between virtual and real worlds. Roastery is also one of the “touch points” that help Starbucks’ digital flywheel strategy take off in the digital age.

Le Hoang

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