Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Want Digital Content with Your Coffee at Starbucks?


Yahoo will manage the new Starbucks Digital Network in company stores to deliver news and other content to Starbucks customers. The free Starbucks Digital Network will offer six channels of content on Wi-Fi and replace the previous network provided by AT&T. For the launch week, Starbucks is featuring free music, movie and novel offers.

Would you like some tasty content Relevant Products/Services with your morning coffee? Starbucks thinks so. On Wednesday, the ubiquitous coffee-shop giant launched its Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo.

The network, which the company said is the first in-store network of its kind, will feature "hand-picked" premium news, entertainment, lifestyle content, and locally oriented information. The company said the service is designed for a range of screen sizes, from laptops to tablets to smartphones, and is available to customers at the stores via free Wi-Fi.

Six Channels of Content

The network is only available when a customer Relevant Products/Services is connected to Wi-Fi at a U.S. company-operated Starbucks, of which there are nearly 6,800. It was built and is being managed by Yahoo.

Starbucks CIO and Digital Ventures General Manager Stephen Gillett said the company's customers have said "they want to be the first to know what's happening in their neighborhoods and around the globe," and be able to discover new music, books and films.

He added that customers are connecting with the brand digitally "in numerous ways," and that these points of contact, centered on "recommending culturally relevant works and focused on giving back to the community," are helping create a unique customer experience.

There are six channels of content in the Digital Network -- news, entertainment, wellness, business & careers, My Neighborhood, and Starbucks. Content providers include the Bookish Reading Club, Foursquare, GOOD, LinkedIn, New Word Relevant Products/Services City, Yahoo News and Sports, Nick Jr. Boost, Rodale, The Weather Channel, and others.

Exclusive Offers

The channels are curated by a team of editors. The News channel includes free access to the New York Times Reader 2.0, WSJ.com and the USA Today eEdition, which are otherwise subscription-based services. The Bookish Reading Club will give free access to books from several major publishers.

During this launch week, Starbucks is featuring exclusive offers, including free music tracks, a movie clip, and a novel sneak preview. The tracks, offered through iTunes, are two songs and a video Relevant Products/Services from a new band, Fistful of Mercy. The film is a clip from Waiting for Superman, a new documentary about American education, and the novel is Rescue, by best-selling author Anita Shreve.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said store-specific content networks remind him of Philip K. Dick's Minority Report, where retailers deliver personalized content to the customer even before the customer asks for it.

Shimmin said "one of the most surprising" companies to jump on the in-store Wi-Fi fad is McDonald's. He wondered if its success in this area played a role in getting Starbucks to move from its earlier partnership with AT&T that offered fee-based Wi-Fi.

With its Digital Network in place, he said, the day is not far off when users pay for Starbucks orders by swiping their iPhone and content is automatically delivered to customers as efficiently as a barista who knows your coffee preference.

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