Starbucks closes online store to focus on in-person experience

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz has soured on digital sales. “Every retailer that is going to win in this new environment must become an experiential destination,” Schultz told investors in April.

As customers increasingly shift their retail shopping toward e-commerce, Starbucks is bucking the trend: It shuttered its online store Sunday.

The company posted a notice in late August on its online store notifying shoppers that the site would soon close. The digital store stocked items like Starbucks coffee and branded mugs and tumblers, along with a selection of espresso machines, brewing tools and other accessories.

“You can purchase your favorite coffee and Starbucks merchandise in your local Starbucks,” the company wrote in a note to customers about the closing of the online store. “We cannot guarantee availability of any product in stores, but we know you will find many choices to enjoy.”

Maggie Jantzen, a company spokeswoman, said the decision to shut down the online store was part of a push to “simplify” Starbucks’ sales channels.

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“We’re continuing to invest in amplifying Starbucks as a must-visit destination and are looking across our portfolio to make disciplined, thoughtful decisions,” Jantzen said.

The company’s chief executive, Kevin Johnson, spoke on Starbucks’ most recent earnings call about a “seismic shift” in retailing. To survive, he said, merchants need to create unique and immersive in-store experiences. (Starbucks decided in July to close its nearly 400 Teavana stores in malls, which, Johnson, said were “persistently underperforming.”)

Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks, indicated a few months earlier that he had soured on digital sales.

“Every retailer that is going to win in this new environment must become an experiential destination,” Schultz told investors in April. “Your product and services, for…

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