Starbucks Removes 30 Percent of Branded Merch From Stores
In a move to combat the issue of shelves crowded with excess merchandise, Starbucks will be selling 30 percent fewer types of the merchandise it currently offers in front of store counters. This means that the brand will be removing 200 items from its collection.
The purpose of the move is to make it easier to add or remove items from stores according to need without having to worry about being forced to retain or store unwanted items. In a comment to investors, Scott Maw, CFO of Starbucks, clarified the company’s goal with the reduction.
“This simplification effort increases our focus and reduces operational complexity in our stores,” he said.
Starbucks’ decision should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with trends in retail as of late. As e-commerce tightens its hold on a variety of industries, brands are forced to cut down on in-store selections in order to focus on fast, high-volume, online selling rather than on growing in-store stock.
By streamlining their brick-and-mortar offerings, retailers are acknowledging this massive consumer shift toward online shopping. This means that in-store stock will remain simple, and that the items available will lean on the basic or bare-essential side of things.
What is unique for Starbucks, however, is that the brand actually has no e-commerce platform to speak of. That’s right, on Oct. 1 of last year, Starbucks closed its e-commerce store at shop.starbucks.com. Apparently, the move was made so that the brand could focus more heavily on its digital advertising platform.
If Starbucks continues along this current path, it seems it could be moving away from branded merchandise altogether. We’ll keep you posted, as per usual, but in the meantime, it may be fun to speculate on what, if anything, this could mean for the promotional products industry.
There’s the possibility that this could mark the start of a trend in retail, whereby large companies are forsaking branded merchandise for other forms of marketing, such as digital. If that happens, it's possible manufacturers with business in promo and retail could take a hit.
Maybe we’ll start seeing more people asking for refills at Starbucks with non-Starbucks-branded promotional drinkware instead of those hyped-up rose gold mugs from last year’s holiday collection! Let’s see how things play out.