Starbucks is right now 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 clients to each earn and buy digital belongings that unlock unique experiences and rewards.
The corporate had earlier teased its web3 plans to investors, saying it believed this new expertise would construct on the present Starbucks Rewards mannequin the place clients right now earn “stars” which might be exchanged for perks, like free drinks. It envisions Starbucks Odyssey as a approach for its most loyal clients to earn a broader set of rewards whereas additionally constructing group.
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 crew labored on Starbucks Odyssey alongside the Seattle espresso chain’s personal advertising, 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 speculate on this space, however not as a “stunt” aspect challenge, as many corporations are doing. Quite, it wished to discover a approach to make use of the expertise to boost its enterprise and broaden its current loyalty program.
It opted to make NFTs the passes that permit entry to this digital group, nevertheless it’s deliberately obscuring the character of the expertise underpinning the expertise in an effort to carry in additional shoppers — 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 trustworthy — might very properly not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain expertise. It’s simply the enabler,” Brewer explains.
To interact with the Starbucks Odyssey expertise, Starbucks Rewards members will log in to the online app utilizing their current loyalty program credentials.
As soon as there, they’ll be capable of have interaction with varied actions, which Starbucks referred to as “journeys” — like enjoying interactive video games or taking over challenges designed to deepen their information of the Starbucks model or espresso typically. 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 an alternative.
Moreover, a set of limited-edition NFTs might be accessible 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 just isn’t required. The corporate believes this may make it simpler for shoppers to have interaction with the web3 expertise by reducing the barrier to entry. It additionally received’t complicate shoppers’ transactions with issues like “gasoline charges,” preferring to supply a bundled worth.
The corporate just isn’t but able to share what its NFTs will price or what number of might be accessible at launch, saying these are selections which can be nonetheless being ironed out.
Nonetheless, the varied “stamps” (NFTs) will embody a degree worth based mostly on their rarity and might be purchased or offered amongst Starbucks Odyessy members within the market, with the possession secured on the blockchain. The paintings on the NFTs is being co-created by Starbucks and outdoors artists, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition collectibles might be donated to help causes chosen by Starbucks workers and clients.
By gathering the stamps, members will acquire factors that may unlock unique advantages.
These perks transcend these you may earn with a conventional Starbucks Rewards account and its “stars.” Whereas right now, 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.
On the decrease finish, that might be a digital espresso martini-making class or entry to distinctive merchandise and artist collaborations. As you acquire extra factors, you could earn invitations to particular occasions hosted at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, and even earn a visit to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica. It’s anticipated the very largest perks might be reserved for many who buy NFTs, although lesser variations could also be provided to those that earn their approach up.
As an illustration, a paid NFT may provide the total journey bundle and farm tour, whereas an earned NFT may provide the tour alone with flights and resorts left as much as the person. 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 person account credentials for each packages.
Brewer says Starbucks is already imagining how among the actions that earn NFTs might be related to real-world Starbucks purchases, as an example.
In Odyssey, customers earn NFTs by doing challenges, which could additionally embody a real-world exercise like “attempt three issues on the espresso menu.” This is able to require the person 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 would embody at launch.
“However we’ll have experiences that do hyperlink on to clients’ 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 commonly the case with present NFT communities, which worth out the common person.
“There might be a whole lot of methods for individuals to earn [rewards] with out having to spend some huge cash,” says Brewer. “We need to make this tremendous straightforward and accessible. There might be loads of on a regular basis experiences clients can earn like digital lessons or entry to restricted version merchandise, as an example. “The vary of experiences might be fairly huge and really accessible,” he provides.
Starbucks says it explored all of the completely 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 vitality than first-generation “proof-of-work” blockchains, which is extra according to its dialog objectives.
The concept to enter into the world of web3 is sensible for a corporation identified for profiting from rising applied sciences and making them extra approachable and straightforward for shoppers to entry. In years previous, Starbucks launched Wi-Fi in its shops to encourage clients to spend extra time throughout visits. It additionally pushed the thought of cellular wallets lengthy earlier than Apple Pay grew to become ubiquitous. And it made cellular ordering the norm properly forward of the Covid pandemic, when different restaurant chains picked it up.
However one criticism leveraged towards many conventional companies after they enter the web3 market is that they’re approaching it as a advertising 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 potential earlier than,” Brewer claims. The intention is to be versatile and transfer with the purchasers because the web3 market modifications, he explains. “It’s actually essential that we’re it for the long-term,” he continues. “However, provided 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’ll take away the waitlist and open the platform extra broadly someday subsequent yr.