Future of Retail: Starbucks Reserve Roastery

China is home to the world’s largest retail and e-commerce markets. The arrival of new retail, which integrates the offline and online retail experiences, is not only changing the way consumers shop and buy products, but also how they experience brands.


In the first of a series exploring the Future of Retail in China, UMS takes a look at Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai.



Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai is the largest Starbucks in the world measuring at 30,000 square feet and the two-level store features in-house roasting facilities, three coffee bars, a special Teavana tea bar, Italian bakery Princi and a host of Starbucks branded accessories and products.


The store merges the online and offline brand experiences to provide a destination for consumers and Starbucks fans. Featuring roaming staff members who can place orders via apps, consumers pay using WeChat Pay or AliPay and then receive notifications via the apps to alert them when their coffee is ready for collection.


The store also features an augmented reality experience showcasing the in-house roastery facilities. The experience is powered by e-commerce giant Alibaba, which also provides retail links via its Tmall app. Alibaba has also extended its partnership with Starbucks, enabling the coffee giant to launch a virtual store within its ecosystem which includes delivery via its Ele.me service.


Starbucks Reserve Roastery is an experience designed to be photographed, filmed and shared. From the artistic features such as a wall of tea boxes and the eye-catching central drum, to the coffee roasting facilities, steam pipes and coffee drums – not to mention the variety of intriguing coffee brewing techniques.


When Starbucks first opened the doors of its Reserve Roastery experience in Shanghai, it was met with such high consumer demand that people waited more than two hours in queues just to get inside for a coffee. Since opening its doors, it has become the company’s highest grossing store globally, with its daily sales double the amount an average US store makes in one week. This is significant when you consider that Starbucks already has more than 600 stores in Shanghai.



Starbucks example is one of a number of new retail experiences launching across China, where audiences are lapping up these digitally enabled experiences. New retail is becoming hugely popular across China.  Brands are increasingly working to merge their online and offline experiences to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience.


Brand experiences, events, pop-up stores and branded destinations are very popular with Chinese consumers and they provide an excellent way for people to experience and trial new brands.


These digitally supported events provide brands with opportunities to connect and engage with consumers via digital and social media channels as well as in the flesh and ensure ongoing relationships.


UMS works with companies to help them to engage their brands with Chinese consumers, talk to us to find out how we could help your company grow in China.