The World's Biggest Starbucks Lands in Shanghai With Augmented Reality

At the Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai small-lot coffees are loaded for roasting in front of a two-story 40-ton copper cask on which traditional Chinese chops or stamps are displayed to tell the story of Starbucks and its Reserve coffee. (Courtesy of S

The World's Biggest Starbucks Lands in Shanghai With Augmented Reality

The coffee giant even partnered with another retail powerhouse, Alibaba Group, to create Starbucks' first augmented reality experience. One of the key designs is the ceiling, which is comprised of 10,000 handmade wooden hexagon-shaped tiles.

Opening Tuesday in the Chinese city is Starbucks' second Reserve Roastery, a "megastore" that is more of a mecca for coffee lovers than a traditional cafe.

The Roastery in Shanghai also includes China's first Teavana Bar.

Starbucks now has over 3,000 of its stores in China, with 600 in the city of Shanghai alone - and the company hopes to outpace its growth in the USA with plans to open at least a store a day nationwide. The other one, in Seattle, opened three years ago and is half the size of the new location, at 789 Nanjing Road W., which has three coffee bars offering multiple brewing methods.

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"Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation, are looking for things more quality-driven, more unique, that speaks to who they are", said Mr Jack Chuang, a Shanghai-based partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who has studied the Chinese coffee market.

Customers can watch coffee beans being roasted, try some of the high-end products and even interact with the store through an augmented reality mobile app on their phones and tablets.

The Shanghai flagship store will offer a range of Chinese teas at a "tea experience bar", as well. Collect them all to receive a custom Roastery filter to share on social media.

Starbucks has its sights clearly set on China as its biggest future market, and is aggressively opening stores in the PRC.

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People gather in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China.

The experience also extends to Alibaba's online marketplace, Tmall, allowing customers to purchase Shanghai Roastery and Reserve branded merchandise and whole bean coffee for delivery directly to their homes, or to register for specially-curated coffee tasting experiences that can be enjoyed at the Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai.

A Starbucks "partner" makes a siphon brew in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China. "We've created a space that both recognizes and celebrates our 46-year history of coffee leadership and retail innovation with China's rich, diverse culture".

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