IQ News: Starbucks.Com Will Let Coffee Drinkers Get Wired




Java lovers will soon be able to order their favorite coffee blends on the Web through a commerce-focused site being launched by Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. and created by Organic, San Francisco.
Organic was chosen for the assignment following a review among 10 shops. The agency, part of Omnicom Group’s Communicade unit, will create a site that sells the popular retailer’s coffee, brewing equipment, mugs and related merchandise.
Other content will include features pointing out, for example, that the flavor of coffee varies by where it is grown and how it is roasted and brewed. The Internet venue is scheduled to launch in the fall at www.starbucks.com.
“We want to create a space where people feel comfortable, where it has value, where they can be educated about things,” said Jonathan Nelson, Organic’s chief executive officer. Starbucks has had a retail area on America Online for two years. That site sells everything from special Mother’s Day gift baskets to a small selection of compilation CDs. The company also has an online job center at www.OCC.com.
“We now feel that there is significant mass on the Web, and the potential of online commerce is very interesting to us,” said Heidi Wells, Internet project manager at Starbucks. “We believe that this is the right time for us to get on the Web. Also, it’s good sometimes to wait and see what other brand lifestyle companies are doing and learn from their successes and mistakes.”
John Williams, director of corporate marketing, added that Starbucks was not a truly national brand until two years ago when it began distributing Starbucks-branded products such as Frappuccino and ice cream, which require promotion outside of the company’s ubiquitous cafes.
Organic has developed electronic commerce sites for Barnes & Noble, Fragrance Counter and others. “Easily 50 percent of our business right now is pretty large branded retailing online,” Nelson said.
Though many large retailers such as Starbucks are jumping online somewhat later than their counterparts, he said, doing so now is a more viable idea.
“In many cases, I think a lot of those companies didn’t have a lot to say. There’s a real reason for them to be there these days,” he said. “It’s about purchasing now that ecommerce is becoming a reality. . . . They can see the revenue generated by these sites.”