Image via Starbucks

Starbucks unveiled its first-ever “express retail” concept store, located Beijing, China and aimed at further streamlining the delivery and pickup process for customers and drivers.

According to a press release, the new “Starbucks Now” retail store “seamlessly integrates Starbucks physical and digital customer touchpoints.” Its minimalist design features very limited seating and a secure in-wall pickup system with “pickup portals” associated with each order. Delivery drivers or customers who order via the Starbucks mobile app can retrieve their orders from those portals.

The store will keep one or two baristas on the floor to greet customers and assist them with ordering. The location will also serve as a central hub for fulfilling delivery orders for nearby stores within a certain radius, thereby shifting the burden of the extra orders away from those more traditional locations.

The move follows efforts earlier this year from Starbucks to expand its delivery program across China, an initiative that also included opening ghost kitchens for fulfilling more delivery orders. More important, the Starbucks Now store is also clearly aimed at competing with its newly public rival Luckin. The latter focuses on a store model that’s largely around on-the-go orders, with 91.3 percent of those locations “pick-up stores” that offer very limited seating.

Starbucks said it plans to open more of these express stores in high-traffic areas in China, especially targeting business and transit hubs. No word yet on if we’ll see similar stores hit the U.S. at any point in the near future.

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