Starbucks is immediately formally introducing Starbucks Odyssey, launching later this yr — the espresso chain’s first foray into constructing with web3 expertise. The brand new expertise combines the corporate’s profitable Starbucks Rewards loyalty program with an NFT platform, permitting its prospects to each earn and buy digital belongings that unlock unique experiences and rewards.
The corporate had earlier teased its web3 plans to buyers, saying it believed this new expertise would construct on the present Starbucks Rewards mannequin the place prospects immediately earn “stars” which will be exchanged for perks, like free drinks. It envisions Starbucks Odyssey as a means for its most loyal prospects to earn a broader set of rewards whereas additionally constructing neighborhood.
To develop the challenge, Starbucks introduced in Adam Brotman, the architect of its Cell Order & Pay system and the Starbucks app, to assist function a particular advisor. Now the co-founder of Forum3, a web3 loyalty startup, Brotman’s staff labored on Starbucks Odyssey alongside the Seattle espresso chain’s personal advertising and marketing, loyalty, and expertise groups.
Whereas Starbucks had been investigating blockchain applied sciences for a few years, it has solely been concerned on this explicit challenge for round six months, Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer advised TechCrunch. He says the corporate wished to take a position on this space, however not as a “stunt” aspect challenge, as many firms are doing. Reasonably, it wished to discover a means to make use of the expertise to boost its enterprise and broaden its current loyalty program.
It opted to make NFTs the passes that enable entry to this digital neighborhood, nevertheless it’s deliberately obscuring the character of the expertise underpinning the expertise with a view to convey in additional customers — together with non-technical individuals — to the web3 platform.
“It occurs to be constructed on blockchain and web3 applied sciences, however the buyer — to be sincere — might very nicely not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain expertise. It’s simply the enabler,” Brewer explains.
To have interaction with the Starbucks Odyssey expertise, Starbucks Rewards members will log in to the net app utilizing their current loyalty program credentials.
As soon as there, they’ll be capable of have interaction with numerous actions, which Starbucks known as “journeys” — like taking part in interactive video games or taking up challenges designed to deepen their data of the Starbucks model or espresso on the whole. As they full these journeys, members can early digital collectibles within the type of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Starbucks Odyssey, nonetheless, does away with the tech lingo and calls these NFT collectibles “journey stamps” as a substitute.
Moreover, a set of limited-edition NFTs might be out there to buy within the Starbucks Odyessy net app, which additionally works on cellular gadgets. Although hosted on the Polygon blockchain, these NFTs might be purchased utilizing a credit score or debit card — a crypto pockets will not be required. The corporate believes this may make it simpler for customers to have interaction with the web3 expertise by decreasing the barrier to entry. It additionally received’t complicate customers’ transactions with issues like “gasoline charges,” preferring to supply a bundled worth.
The corporate will not be but able to share what its NFTs will value or what number of might be out there at launch, saying these are selections which are nonetheless being ironed out.
Nevertheless, the assorted “stamps” (NFTs) will embrace a degree worth primarily based on their rarity and will be purchased or offered amongst Starbucks Odyessy members within the market, with the possession secured on the blockchain. The art work on the NFTs is being co-created by Starbucks and out of doors artists, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition collectibles might be donated to assist causes chosen by Starbucks workers and prospects.
By amassing the stamps, members will achieve factors that may unlock unique advantages.
These perks transcend these you may earn with a standard Starbucks Rewards account and its “stars.” Whereas immediately, members can earn issues like free espresso, free meals, or choose merchandise, the factors earned in Starbucks Odyessy will translate into experiences and different advantages.
Picture Credit: Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia(opens in a brand new window)
On the decrease finish, that might be a digital espresso martini-making class or entry to distinctive merchandise and artist collaborations. As you achieve extra factors, it’s possible you’ll earn invitations to particular occasions hosted at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, and even earn a visit to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia espresso farm in Costa Rica. It’s anticipated the very largest perks might be reserved for individuals who buy NFTs, although lesser variations could also be provided to those that earn their means up.
As an example, a paid NFT might supply the complete journey bundle and farm tour, whereas an earned NFT might supply the tour alone with flights and inns left as much as the consumer. The corporate hasn’t made any formal selections on this entrance, nonetheless.
However what the corporate can say is that it needs to deeply combine this system with its current loyalty rewards, past merely utilizing the identical consumer account credentials for each packages.
Brewer says Starbucks is already imagining how a few of the actions that earn NFTs might be linked to real-world Starbucks purchases, as an illustration.
In Odyssey, customers earn NFTs by doing challenges, which could additionally embrace a real-world exercise like “attempt three issues on the espresso menu.” This is able to require the consumer to indicate their barcode at checkout — as they might if incomes stars — to have their transaction counted in the direction of the Starbuck Odyssey problem. The corporate continues to be figuring out what mixture of video games, challenges, and quests it is going to embrace at launch.
“However we’ll have experiences that do hyperlink on to prospects’ habits in our shops,” Brewer stresses. Most significantly, the corporate needs to make gaining NFTs one thing anybody can do — not simply these with cash to blow on digital collectibles, as is usually the case with present NFT communities, which worth out the typical consumer.
“There might be numerous methods for individuals to earn [rewards] with out having to spend some huge cash,” says Brewer. “We need to make this tremendous simple and accessible. There might be loads of on a regular basis experiences prospects can earn like digital lessons or entry to restricted version merchandise, as an illustration. “The vary of experiences might be fairly huge and really accessible,” he provides.
Starbucks says it explored all of the totally different blockchains for the challenge however landed on the “proof-of-stake” blockchain expertise constructed by Polygon for this effort as a result of it makes use of much less power than first-generation “proof-of-work” blockchains, which is extra in keeping with its dialog targets.
Picture Credit: Starbucks(opens in a brand new window)
The concept to enter into the world of web3 is sensible for a corporation identified for benefiting from rising applied sciences and making them extra approachable and simple for customers to entry. In years previous, Starbucks launched Wi-Fi in its shops to encourage prospects to spend extra time throughout visits. It additionally pushed the concept of cellular wallets lengthy earlier than Apple Pay turned ubiquitous. And it made cellular ordering the norm nicely forward of the Covid pandemic, when different restaurant chains picked it up.
However one criticism leveraged towards many conventional companies once they enter the web3 market is that they’re approaching it as a advertising and marketing stunt, not an actual endeavor. Starbucks, after all, argues that’s the case right here — however solely time will inform how severe its curiosity could also be.
“We’re bullish on the way forward for these applied sciences enabling experiences that weren’t doable earlier than,” Brewer claims. The intention is to be versatile and transfer with the shoppers because the web3 market adjustments, he explains. “It’s actually necessary that we’re taking a look at it for the long-term,” he continues. “However, on condition that we’re plugging it into our industry-leading, large scale rewards program — we’re dedicated,” he says.
The corporate says its web3 platform will open its waitlist (waitlist.starbucks.com) on September 12 and can launch later within the yr. It’s going to take away the waitlist and open the platform extra broadly someday subsequent yr.