Starbucks offers first in-store augmented reality experience

Starbucks offers first in-store augmented reality experience

Customers standing in front of the roasting cask at the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Asia will see a two-story copper vessel adorned with almost 3,000 hand-carved traditional Chinese chops or stamps.

As if all this wasn't enough already, the store also has China's first Starbucks Teavana bar, which is made from 3D-printed recycled materials and serves nitrogen-infused tea.

Serving some of the rarest, small-lot coffees in the world using any one of six brewing methods, drinking the coffee at the Shanghai Roastery will be an experience all on its own.

"It's like Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka", said Emily Chang, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Starbucks China.

According to CNBC, which visited the new Shanghai megastore, Starbucks estimates that it opens a new store every 15 hours in China and it hopes its roastery concept will become a destination in itself rather than just somewhere to have a coffee.

A press release on the Starbucks Newsroom mentions that the outlet will "reflect a similar, immersive all sensory experience".

"We wanted to create a completely new brand experience for our customers". Customers can watch the green beans as they are roasted, then sent through copper "symphony" pipes (named because of the musical sound the beans make as they travel through them) directly to silos at the coffee bars.

When customers walk in they are even given an "exploration guide", which doubles as a map.

By using the AR experience, customers can also unlock virtual badges and a roastery photo filter to showcase their time there, the release said. Alibaba's scene-recognition software powers the AR experience, letting customers order from anywhere in the store.

All of it is created to help customers further understand the story of coffee, from bean to cup, said Roastery Director of Customer Experience Echo Jiang, in the release. "We wanted to enable them to order wherever they want". "It's coffee as theater", Jiang said. Through Alibaba's Taobao mobile app, visitors can view augmented reality-powered digital menus and details of each coffee bar, brewing methods and merchandise.

At the Shanghai site, two huge black cast iron ovens churn out more than 80 different freshly baked products a day from focaccia sandwiches with real deal Parma ham and Italian mozzarella, to sinful desserts.

This Starbucks outlet wouldn't be in China if it didn't include a groundbreaking AR (augmented reality) element. The one bright spot was China, which stood out as Starbucks' fastest growing market.

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