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Is it the coffee or is it the experience?

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For the coffee connoisseurs among us, traditionally Starbucks would never be your destination of choice for a daily caffeine fix. Renowned for inconsistent beverages, which are often more akin to burnt water residue, Starbucks would never meet the necessary standards of a velvety smooth morning ritual blend that we are now accustomed to, thanks to the many boutique cafe providers world wide. That being said, the humourous coffee cup name labeling errors certainly offers a daily giggle!

Between 2000 and 2008, Starbucks had grown from 5,000 to a whopping 15,000 stores, yet sales and performance were dropping, so founder Howard Schultz was reinstated as CEO to return the company back to 'founder mentality' and drive insurgence thinking.

With this, Schultz closed 900 stores, invested in training, standards and customer experience; opening the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle (followed by ShanghaiMilanTokyo .. and of course, New York)

Each of these roasteries is a true experience, a destination of choice, and a retail space that you would head to for that all important human connection. Our Creative Director, Guy Richards shares the following images and commentary from his New York visit ....

The first thing you'll notice is that there is no traditional Starbucks branding (the green and white siren icon) but there are subtle nods with simple star emblems, or the exquisite siren sculpture cast in copper;

The aesthetic design throughout the building takes cues from the hardworking ethos of the meatpacking district the roastery is located in, right from the industrial fixtures and fittings, to the classic character-rich uniform worn by all employees;

Attention to detail throughout is paramount, from a complex ceiling feature of timber cubic forms with integrated lighting (and we as designers, manufactures and problem solvers, know that this is no small feat!), to bars composed of solid walnut, and unique coffee carts, display units and seating options;

The Reserve Roastery doesn't just serve up standard coffee (although, what is 'standard' these days), at each touch point of your journey around the roastery, you'll experience the art of story-telling, visit the tasting room, merchandising area, bathrooms (we're not kidding, even these are next-level), indulge in the deliciousness of Princi Bakery goodies, and tickle your taste buds at the Experience bar where all beverages are inspired by coffee, Guy sampled a decadently presented Black & White Manhattan; a coffee-forward cocktail that weaves bartender and barista into a single art;

And to add the all important digital integration, you can even download the New York Roastery AR app to enhance your roastery experience.

Today, the Starbucks brand has more than 20,000 sites in 78 countries worldwide, with an annual turnover of 22 billion. Quite an extraordinary feat for a brand that was built on coffee, yet coffee is not what brings the customers in-store!

We often work with our clients to bring their ideas to life, and creating memorable, emotive and engaging environments is key .. As each new Starbucks Reserve Roastery opens, the world is eagerly watching to see what their next experience entails.

What can we learn from Starbucks approach to retail environment fit-outs?

  • Consumers love a physical store experience, making it imperative that retailers deliver on this and keep their visitors engaged
  • A mobile device is seen as a tool when shopping in store, so embrace technology as an add-on to your retail environment
  • Create a meaningful connection between your brand, products and your customers
  • The art of storytelling; if you have a unique product or proposition, embrace it and share that story with your customers
  • Be agile. Be flexible. Take lessons from your consumers and continue to develop and enhance your store environments to meet their ever-changing needs

At RD, we understand the shifting landscape of retail design and fit-out, and can help you create your next powerful retail environment, contact us HERE to chat about how we can help you!