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World’s biggest Starbucks opened in Shanghai, Jack Ma: I don’t like coffee, but I like Starbucks

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The world’s largest Starbucks just opened up on Nanjing Road, Shanghai, the largest and most developed city in China. This location is said to be “digital” and “interactive”, with the help from Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group.

The Roastery includes Starbucks’ first-ever in-store augmented reality (AR) experience (read more), built in partnership with Alibaba. Using a custom Roastery smartphone app, customers can walk around the store and point at different features with their smartphone to learn more information. The app incorporates a digital menu and also lets customers unlock virtual badges.

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma also spoke a chain of compliments about Starbucks chain in the presence of Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, highlighting how a coffee chain like Starbucks can succeed in a place with no coffee culture.

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Speaking in English, Mr Ma said “people always ask me one question: Why so many American companies are not so successful in China?

“They (Starbucks) care for the people, respect people, respect market, great team and adaptations

“You guys are transferring China, a country drinking tea, you make so many people love coffee.

“I don’t like coffee, but I like Starbucks,” he said, making attendees burst out laughing.

“Interesting, Alibaba this year is also (celebrating) 18th anniversary. We’re both eighteens.

“Starbucks is a great company. It’s the company we Alibaba respect a lot.

“Today is not the celebration of this rostery. It’s a celebration of coffee and tea can work together in China,” Mr Ma said passionately.

A press release describes the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai as the company’s “most ambitious project ever” and as offering the “first fully immersive coffee experience in Asia.”

The two-storey roastery takes up a whopping 30,000 square feet of space, making it about 15 times the size of your average Starbucks outlet and twice as big as the company’s first roastery, opened in Seattle in 2014.

China is Starbucks’ fastest-growing market, according to the company, noting it currently has 3,000 stores in 136 cities—600 in Shanghai alone. The new Shanghai Roastery officially opens on Dec. 6.

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