Starbucks charges up retail - again

Jeff Macke

Starbucks (SBUX) announced that it will be rolling out Duracell Powermats to Starbucks and Teavana locations nationwide. Customers will be able to walk into a cafe, set their devices down on designated mats and let their batteries charge while they eat, order coffee, drink and order more coffee. It should be noted in order to use the system, you need to either have a wireless charging-capable mobile phone (only a few are available now) or have an accessory such as a case that can accept the charge.

Between this and their new wine bars at night, there is basically no reason to ever leave Starbucks again. This is retailing at the highest level.

Genius is by definition, rare. It's beautiful. I don't care what you think about Startbucks as a meeting place or a stock, but if you can't see the beauty of Howard Schultz as a merchant you're missing something spectacular.

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The present state of business travel

The present state of business travel

Walk through the elegance of this concept: Starbucks is looking for a way to get you in their stores. If there's anything on earth Americans are more addicted to than caffeine it's our wireless devices. Particularly for business travelers the prospect of running out of juice during a layover is horrifying. Grown-up, otherwise proud Americans think nothing of sitting on airport floors for hours on end just to secure an outlet. It's not just our batteries dying. It's our very dignity.

Starbucks has just saved us from this humiliation in some small way. Particularly in airports customers would be willing to pay just for the chance to sit at a table and not crawl around looking for a place to plug in their phone or iPad. If I have to drink $4 coffees for the right to loiter in a Starbucks waiting for my flight that's just fine. From a business perspective Starbucks has taken a mediocre consumer product from Proctor & Gamble (PG) and turned it into an awesome life improvement bonus offering for Starbucks customers on the go. The genius is the simplicity.

Last week I mocked Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) for their persistent efforts to solve problems no one really has. Well I actually have a problem with keeping devices charged. Starbucks and Howard Schultz just came up with a way to make my life a little easier and sell some coffee while they're doing it.

That's what good retail looks like, folks. No whining about consumers or the economy. Just seeing needs and satisfying them. If you don't get a charge of out that then you need your capitalist batteries checked.

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