Starbucks is launching delivery at roughly 2,000 stores

  • Starbucks is rolling out delivery at roughly 2,000 stores starting in early 2019. 
  • The coffee chain is partnering with Uber Eats to delivery coffee and other menu items. 
  • Only about half of Starbucks' sales are traditional orders placed with baristas, as drive-thru, mobile ordering, and delivery flourish. 

Starbucks is rolling out delivery at hundreds of stores across the United States. 

The coffee chain is rolling out delivery at nearly a quarter of its roughly 8,000 US company-operated stores, beginning in early 2019, the company announced at its investor day on Thursday. Starbucks is partnering with Uber Eats for its delivery program, which it began testing in Miami over the summer. 

Starbucks has been moving away from its traditional coffee-shop model in recent years.

Read more:More than 4 out of 5 new Starbucks are drive-thrus, and the coffee giant wants to open even more

In fiscal 2016, 61% of the chain's US net sales were ordered through baristas at cafés. 34% of sales were drive-thru orders and 5% were mobile orders.

Two years later, in fiscal 2018, just 51% of sales were from the café. Mobile orders accounted for 12% of sales and drive-thru accounted for 37%. 

The trend of non-traditional orders is set to grow in the coming months. More than 80% of the new Starbucks locations opened in fiscal 2018 in the United States were drive-thrus, the company reported in November. Drive-thru sales growth outpaced general comparable sales by over 4%.

The rise of the drive-thru, mobile ordering, and delivery puts Starbucks in an interesting position. Historically, much of the brand's cachet has been its claims that it builds community between customers and employees.

However, in recent years, an increasing proportion of customers prioritize convenience over community. Further, Starbucks has struggled to boost traffic, which dropped 1% in the US in the most recent quarter. Drive-thrus are a convenient way to increase the number of orders that can be processed without overstuffing stores with customers.

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