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Starbucks to widen online reach in China through new alliance with Meituan, ending exclusive deal with Alibaba's Ele.me

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·2 min read
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Starbucks, which opened its first mainland store in Beijing in January 1999, currently operates more than 5,400 stores located in more than 200 cities across the country. The US company could potentially expand its business by tapping into Meituan's vast domestic customer base, which totalled about 62 million monthly active users at the end of September last year.

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With that alliance, Starbucks ended its three-year exclusive partnership with rival Chinese online delivery platform Ele.me. Customers can now choose to use either Meituan or Ele.me for delivery services. Ele.me parent firm Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The Starbucks menu is shown on the Meituan app displayed on a smartphone at the US coffee chain's flagship store in Beijing on January 18, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Starbucks' partnership with Ele.me started in August 2018, which fostered the development of the US company's Zhuanxingsong service on the mainland. That enabled consumers within a certain distance from a Starbucks store to order drinks and food via Ele.me, which completed each delivery within 18 minutes on average.

Meituan, according to data from Statista, had a 67.3 per cent share of China's food delivery market in 2020. By comparison, Ele.me had a 26.9 per cent share.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.