If there’s one constant at Starbucks in recent years, it’s change. And the pace of innovation shows no signs of slowing.
“We remain a growth company,” CFO Patrick Grismer said at the chain’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. “We are not a mature business whose best days are behind us.”
Here are some of the biggest transformations announced Wednesday at the Seattle-based coffee giant’s shareholders meeting.
1. Reimagining the ‘third place’
Starbucks was founded on the notion that its stores would serve as a “third place” for customers, a gathering spot that is neither home nor school nor work. But that vision is changing as off-premise consumption takes over the industry. Starting with its New York City units, Starbucks will begin revamping stores over the next four years to reimagine the third place while focusing on “convenience, comfort and connection,” the company said.
Starbucks provided few details Wednesday on what this phased revamp will look like. But company executives made clear it would be an in-depth process, possibly making the third place less of a physical space and more of an abstract concept.
“I don’t want anyone to walk away today thinking this is about furniture or a new renovation strategy,” said Roz Brewer, Americas group president and COO, in a statement. “Reimagining the third place is about listening to our customers, so we can better position our business now and for the future. … Their third place is everywhere they’re holding our cup. No matter their journey, after leaving our stores, that feeling of comfort stays with them. And in an increasingly busy and on-demand world, it’s that feeling that keeps the third place growing.”
Changes will include new and reimagined store formats, technology updates, product innovation, and expansion and evolution of the delivery program.
Some stores will be remodeled to focus on need states by daypart, Brewer said, with an emphasis on mobile pickups in the morning and in-store experiences in the afternoon.
“Convenience in the morning, comfort in the afternoon,” she told investors.
2. Doubling down on sustainability
Starbucks, long an industry leader in sustainability, is upping its environmental responsibility. The coffee chain will test recyclable, compostable cups over the next year in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and London. The cups are among the winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge.
Additionally, the company will roll out recyclable, strawless lids to all stores in the United States and Canada in the next year, Starbucks announced. The company previously said it planned to phase out plastic straws from all stores worldwide by 2020.
A new feature planned for the Starbucks mobile app allows customers to scan their coffee bag to see its journey from origin to package.
3. Shrinking the gender pay gap
Starbucks announced last year that it had reached complete wage parity for its employees across all races and genders. Starbucks stores in China and Canada now have verified pay equity, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced Wednesday.
“We’re not just creating opportunities, we are creating equal opportunities,” Johnson said.