Chinese technology titan Alibaba has announced a deep partnership with Starbucks, which it says will “transform the coffee industry in China.” To do so, the duo will merge the online and offline worlds and leverage big data to hook consumers into the Starbucks and Alibaba ecosystems.
Alibaba has evolved far beyond its initial roots as an online marketplace that connects Chinese manufacturers and exporters with businesses around the world. It now operates across the online retail spectrum, with properties to rival Amazon’s stakes in ecommerce and cloud computing, and it is heavily invested in artificial intelligence, mobile payments, social networks, video-streaming, and more.
Put simply, Alibaba has its fingers in a lot of proverbial pies.
As we’ve seen with technology giants such as Amazon, Alibaba has been going all out to own the entire retail experience, bridging the divide between offline and online and controlling all the processes involved in a transaction, from purchase and payments through to logistics and delivery. And it’s this gargantuan technological infrastructure that will power its new partnership with Starbucks.
Kicking off this coming September, Starbucks will begin piloting a delivery service through Alibaba’s food delivery app, Ele.me, which Alibaba acquired for around $9.5 billion earlier this year. The delivery service will initially be limited to 150 stores in Beijing and Shanghai, with plans to expand it to thousands of Starbucks stores around the country by the end of the year. But this partnership involves more than simply adding Starbucks to…