Starbucks Redux

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    Starbucks is making changes in its stores to speed up service and support employees. (AP/Elaine Thompson)
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    A Starbucks barista delivers an order. (AP/Richard Drew)
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    One-fourth of all Starbucks orders are made via the rewards app. (123RF)
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    Esmeralda Chapparro, a Starbucks barista, makes a Cloud Macchiato coffee drink. (AP/Ted S. Warren)
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    Cars line up in the drive-through of a Starbucks in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)
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Lines in the drive-through, long waits for drinks: Starbucks is ringing up record sales . . . but the java giant is also struggling. Now the coffee king is revamping its stores according to customer habits and employee needs.

Since 1971, Starbucks has been a leader in the “Third Place” category—a place people spend time when not at home (“first” place) or work (“second” place). But times they are a-changing, and companies must keep up. Now the popular coffeehouse is rolling out a sweeping “Reinvention” plan with some upcoming adjustments:

Expanded Loyalty Program

Customers love Starbucks Rewards. One-fourth of all orders are made via the rewards app, part of the company’s loyalty program. To keep patrons happy and earning stars, Starbucks has broadened the program to include retailers like grocery stores and airports. So when grabbing a cuppa before boarding, customers keep racking up credit.

Faster Workflow

Grande half-caff non-fat hazelnut Frappuccino. Customizable cold drinks make up as much as 75% of Starbucks’ U.S. beverage orders. But the complicated, multi-step blends are wearing employees out.

The fault lies partly in Starbucks kitchens, which were meant for making simpler hot drinks. “Our physical stores were built for a different era,” explains Chief Operating Officer John Culver.

Under the Reinvention plan, Starbucks is debuting a work station that cuts 50 seconds off making a blended iced beverage. Other new technology will grind and brew a cup of hot joe in 30 seconds and cut the time for making cold brew coffee from 20 hours (!) to a few seconds.

New Stores

Currently, drive-through makes up 50% of U.S. sales. Delivery demand has grown by 24% so far this year. Starbucks intends to open 2,000 new stores in the United States by 2025. The updated cafés will make it easier to offer services including drive-through, mobile ordering, and delivery.

Enhanced Employee Experience

Employee turnover rates are high according to Frank Britt, Starbucks chief strategy and transformation officer. “The reality is, we have a trust deficit with our partners,” he says. “Partners” is the term the company uses to refer to its baristas. “The work we do in our stores today is too physically hard.”

The shift toward automation could give employees more customer contact—and eliminate some of the less interesting parts of the job. Higher wages and better benefits may also keep workers happy.

“Better beverages, delivered more quickly, less strain on our partners,” COO Culver says. “The Reinvention plan allows us to unlock opportunity and delivery growth for the future. Abundant growth.”

Why? Reassessment is a good strategy for businesses and for people. How are you implementing God’s plan for Christians’ growth “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? (2 Peter 3:18)