Through this article, we would walk through the case of Starbucks and demonstrate that a synergistic space use strategy enhances the brand experience and draws in partner and investors. To achieve space use synergies, a brand must employee holistic approach that takes into consideration the needs of the target market, promotes and emphasizes customer journey and experience, drive the effective use of technologies in each of the spaces and most importantly have at its core a believe in people, culture and communities. For more article on how a space use strategy head on to: Basic Concept article.
The rise of the Space Shifters
Space shifting is the act in which a person’s mind switches from one spatial context to another. A person’s mind will normally be operating within the context of the surrounding physical space. However, we sometimes 'drift away' and operate in a different spatial context - for example when we are daydreaming of our next holiday destination. Rich mobile technology and information accessibility is one of the primary space shifting enablers. It is also one of the source of our shorter attention span. Retailers fight hard for an increased attention span as it usually translates into improved attachment between the offered products/services and customer. The attachment would eventually translate into improved sales. Hence, retailers would find ways to keep their customer focused on the offerings and prevent mind drifting. This lead the retail industry to spend a tremendous amount of resources in creating retail experience capable of maintaining attention span.
Starbucks targets Transit Space
But not all retailers see it as a problem. Some retail businesses sees this as a business prospect. Cafe’s is one of it. Cafe’s have the least problem with people drifting away while sipping their cup of perfect brews. Consider Starbucks and their concept of 3rd home. The successful coffee chain offer us an interesting case study into the use of Space Shifting as a key driver.
As a coffee chain, Starbucks provides patrons transitional experience, e.g. a space between office and home; a space for socializing or professional discussion; or a space to revitalize the creative juice. Instead of discouraging mind drifting, a coffee chain like Starbucks is a place to celebrate it. You may argue that, any coffee shop qualifies for that matter. But Starbucks competes more successfully by aggressively negotiating prime real-estate location as it is long proven that a good location acts as a natural magnet. We also know by now that Starbucks not only operates in good locations but it also tends to overdo it by having more than one Starbuck cafes within the same street or neighbourhood. For the purpose of this article, such strategy is not only seen as a way to manage over crowded cafes but also to create more contact points for any potential customers.
A Clear Target Market
Having a prime real estate alone is not enough. Its very important that retailers such as Starbucks develop a strong understanding of target markets and it's evolving needs. Perhaps the following quotes from Starbucks demonstrates well this understanding. Bill Sleeth, VP of Design at Starbucks in an article with http://www.fastcodesign.com said: "Sometimes when you look at the 'my Starbucks' and the 'that Starbucks,' you’ll see there’s really something different between them," Sleeth says. "The my just feels more comfortable. It feels more natural.” Starbucks clearly transit oriented retail position has to be accompanied with something closer to the customer heart in order for it to really matter to the local community.
The Complete Customer Experience
Now that the retail space and target market is clear, Starbucks needs an executable action plans to capture that market. With the target market in mind, the other space selection can take place. It is crucial that the selected operating spaces be closely aligned and relates to the values that Starbucks is attempting to represent. Each of the selected target operating space is assigned an objective and connect customers who transits from one space to another. This connection ties up any loose end that ultimately leads to a consistent overall brand experience. The Starbucks customer journey in each of the Starbucks operating spaces can be revealed when mapped into the following matrix:
The matrix mainly shows the attribute of each deployed asset in the individual spaces. Effectiveness of brand experience delivery (i.e. actual execution) matters more. It is bad for the brand if user gets an inconsistent Starbucks experience during a corporate event (e.g. rude and unknowledgeable baristas, not environmentally friendly practice, etc.)
Starbucks retail space is not product centric as most would have thought. It’s strategy and approach is not around the coffee itself, it is centered around patron and customer experience, hence, the retail space is at the very heart of the retail strategy.
The retail space is used to engage, inspire and enhance its patrons experience. Each store is created out of a vast selection of design theme and materials. Starbucks gives its designers a selection of both local and global design elements. By recognizing the importance of local elements, they are giving each individual store the needed character and differentiation. The aim is no less than achieving the goal of making every customer visit a “My Starbucks moment”. Ultimately it creates stores that blends in well with the surrounding community.
The retail space strategy for Starbucks can be broken into the following components:
The Retail Space Experience
The Starbucks approach shows that it is important that retailers look at the evolving needs of customer. However, it wasn’t that long ago when Starbucks only have 4 retail design themes to choose which led to unnecessary design constraints. This in turn compromised customers retail experience with the Starbucks brand. As Starbucks expanded, its in-store experience felt mundane and repetitive. It offered little in terms of transitionary experience and worst felt, uninspiring when a customer move from one Starbucks store to another. This changed when Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks.
"We believe a coffeehouse should be a welcoming, inviting and familiar place for people to connect, so we design our stores to reflect the unique character of the neighborhoods they serve. We are also interested in the way design can connect us all to sustainable building practices and provoke thoughtful questions and engagement with the built environment. In addition to reducing energy and water consumption, we incorporate reused and recycled materials wherever possible and often use locally inspired design details and materials in our stores." Starbucks designer references what is known as The Catalogue to create a globally consistent coffee shop design whilst at the same time allow experimentation by designers with local elements to induce the sense that it My Starbucks.
The mobile app program seems to be positioned as its retail companion app. It delivers a set of customer engagement and management capabilities such as customer loyalty and reward management, value representation system, value exchange system, targeted marketing platform, communication channel, etc. On the other side of the coin, the mobile app that started off as a digital value holding system is now slowly being molded into a Starbucks-centric brand experience. Since mobile tech is primarily part of a FMS (follow-me-system)
Whilst the mobile app seems to have a more refined strategy and approach, the same could not be said of the web portal. The existing Starbuck cyberspace approach does not have any specific orientation in that it does not appear to be oriented to drive traffics to the retail store. In fact, the site looked a little cluttered and lacks a clear
Starbucks strong hold on the market through its sharp focus on customer experience management relies a lot on an integrated approach. Yet, there is much room for improvement. Particularly in the mobile space. with and also how R.3.M.A.G.I.C.S can be combined to position Starbucks in the other spaces (e.g. private, commercial and public space).
In the end, maintaining a strong focus on the key market segment and by continuously validating the relevance of its market positioning strategy,
It is then worthwhile for retailers to run an assessment on how well is the customer experienced aligned to the brand messaging through its various channels.
Using a combination of StAF and R3MAGICS, this blog post provides architecture analysis of the trend and major players in the retail market. R.3.M.A.G.I.C.S is short for Robotics, 3D Printing, Mobility, Analytics, Gamification, IoT, Cloud and Social platform. It encapsulates the key elements that will change the social-economic fabric in the coming years. StAF is short for Strategy-driven Architecture Framework.