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Facing A `Tidal Wave Of Change' Brought On By E-Commerce, Starbucks Outlines Growth Plans

Sam Howzit
Interior of Starbucks at Downtown District in Disneyland Resort

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says his company is facing a "tidal wave of change" as people buy more online and less in brick and mortar stores, so he’s outlined a plan to attract even more people to his cafes even in the age of e-commerce. 

With the shift to online retail, Starbucks can’t count on people picking up a latte as they do their Christmas shopping.

Schultz says that means Starbucks has to be a destination in and of itself with, say, special décor like Seattle’s University Village location, which uses redwood and leather salvaged from shoe and car factories.

Now the company is launching an upscale brand within a brand called Starbucks Reserve that will serve rare, micro-lot coffees.

"Let’s build the Willy Wonka of coffee," Schultz told investors and analysts. "Let’s create an experience that does not exist – theater, romance, sexiness, a multi-sensory experience, and let’s intoxicate people as they come in."

The company is doing lots of stuff to bring people in and get them to spend more, from offering sandwiches at lunch to serving wine and beer in some stores in the evening.

And Starbucks is trying to shorten its lines by letting people order and pay for a coffee ahead of time using a smartphone. Schultz says ultimately the goal is to almost double revenue five years from now and keep boosting profits. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.