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Starbucks needs some innovation and not just a makeover. It needs serious business model innovation as well as a significant redesign of its space. Pentagram’s Jim Biber has a terrific piece out in Architect magazine that is insightful, honest and possibly the best way for Howard Shultz to save Starbucks. But it’s pretty radical.
The funniest and truest of Biber’s suggestions is the name change—from Starbucks to just bucks, or *$. Let’s face it, Biber says, the company was once based on the leisurely Italian coffee house model of a quiet place away from house and office, with personal relationships between customers and baristas, and a nice wait for hand-brewed coffee. Those days are over with Starbucks’ huge growth and emphasis on efficiency and speed. Shultz is trying to get back to the old days but that’s impossible, given Wall Street’s imperatives. So why not just be honest and embrace what really drives the company—bucks?
I love this truth, even if it is a little harsh.
Biber goes on to say that Starbucks now has at least three kinds of customers and relationships with them. It should redesign its stores to reflect that. For those who just want a quick cup of coffee, create a fast line, perhaps outside, for them. They shouldn't have to wait more than 30 seconds.
A second group of customers want their coffee, something to eat, perhaps a New York Times--and they usually want the same thing every morning or afternoon. Design a space for them right inside the door. They can use their store card to order. Time? Two minutes for them.
And for those who want complex drinks, a deep personal relationship with their barista and time to write the Great American Novel, design a space at the back of the store just for them to take as long as they want. Their social experience doesn't interfere with the desire for efficiency from other Starbucks customers. Brilliant this.
Beiber also has a sweet redesign of the store itself, putting all the accessories now sold online, and making Starbucks true to its new self once again.
Howard, listen to Jim. He is giving you a million dollars worth of IP for free here.
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