I was at the Starbucks on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica this past Sunday and noticed several interesting changes to the normal Starbucks model:
- They take your order otuside right along the PRomenade and then you go inside to pick up your order. What I didn't hear was the normal banter (yelling) between the people taking the orders and the people making orders because the Health Department had obviously mandated swinging glass doors be put between the outdoor ordering area and the indoor prep area. Takes away from some of the "scene".
- They did not write on the cups! No, I'm not kidding. Instead they have a fancy new touchscreen computer system that prints the albel with your exact order and name back in the prep area. Perhaps this is a function of the unique configuration of this particular store, but it was kind of a bummer not to see the doctor's prescription-like scribbles on the back of the cup that somehow manage to generate the perfect beverage of your choice. Takes away more from the "scene".
- There were Tablet PCs incased in stanless-steel housing on the outdoor counter area from which you could create your own CD that presumably printed out somewhere inside. I like the Tablet PC and music idea -- very cool.
- On entering the inside of the "coffe shop" (if it could be called that), I found myself standing at the typically small order pick-up area and in the middle of a music shop. CDs adorned the walls and a bar with Tablet PCs at every stool; what I assumed to be a point of sale system and an array of CD burners were behind the bar. Sure there were still some tables and chairs, but it wasn't the light cherry trimmed with stainless-steel typically cookie cutter inside of a Starbucks. What's happened?
One of Starbucks' biggest strategic advantages had been its ability to reinvent and reimagine itself as more than a coffe shop. Through the addition of various impulse-buy items and the addition of high-speed wireless Internet service, turning Starbucks into a virtual office, Starbucks has not only stayed ahead of the curve, they have set the bar.
So is this the new model for Starbucks locations or is this just a very uniqu location based on numerous factors such as its physical location, the number of tourists, the climate, etc.? The answer: Only Starbucks really knows.