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Starbucks Introduces Wi-Fi

In: Business and Management

Submitted By blaine
Words 988
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In 2001, Starbucks introduced wireless Internet service after forming an alliance with Microsoft and MobileStar, which is a wireless broadband Internet service provider, to enable Starbucks’ customers the ability to drink their coffee and eat their food while using their laptops, PDAs and other devices to access the Internet (Henderson, 2001, pg. 66). This Wi-Fi capability also enabled Starbucks’ managers and employees the ability to run the business and their specific locations more efficiently and effectively. As of 2003, Starbucks reported that they already offered wireless Internet service in most of their stores within the United States and plan to offer Wi-Fi in 2,700 locations by the end of 2003 (Hartnett, 2003, pg. 62).
Wi-Fi’s Value-Added Benefits
Starbucks is seeking the opportunity to, “keep butts in seats for the opportunity to serve up a second cup of Joe.” (Powell, 2003, para. 3.) Attracting customers is one of the primary concerns for any business. Offering wireless Internet connections within their locations enables Starbucks to attract customers in another manner, rather than the direct coffee and snack avenue, while simultaneously keeping their customers in the locations longer than normal.
Starbucks not only views the Wi-Fi introduction into their locations as a way to keep their customers coming in, but also as a way to operate their business more efficiently. Starbucks is utilizing the Wi-Fi capabilities to allow their employees, especially store managers, to access applications and databases to streamline hiring, sales, inventory handling and various other tasks to enable managers to work more efficiently from locations (Greene, 2003, paras. 2 & 6). Starbucks stores can run video streams for training and voice over IP to reduce phone costs between locations and headquarters (Greene, 2003, para. 3). Wi-Fi has made hiring practices more efficient for Starbucks. Starbucks recruiters can connect to their intranet via the wireless connections at Starbucks locations rather than going to field offices to access workflow applications and databases of job candidates (Greene, 2003, para. 7). Training and sales has become more efficient as a product of the wireless capabilities at Starbucks locations as well. The Starbucks sales force and district managers can work with store managers from any Starbucks location and work together via the intranet to compare sales statistics and store performance as well as gather messages, place orders, compare pricing, check order status, manage store systems, distribute software for running cash registers and access Starbucks’ training (Greene, 2003, paras. 8-11). Wi-Fi access enables Starbucks’ employees to run the locations more efficiently and effectively by reducing the time and cost of lengthy travel to field offices, thus adding value to the Starbucks firm. This also solved a lot of their management and organizational issues, by alleviating the length of time that store managers were not physically in their own locations.
Logistical Issues
Starbucks intended to turn their locations into places where business people could hold meetings, but did not wish their customers to view or trip over wires, thus they opted for wireless Internet access (Marsan, 2001, para. 7). MobileStar Network of Richardson, Texas installed a wireless infrastructure in 70% of Starbucks locations in 2001, enabling Starbucks customers the ability to access the Internet via a wireless connection with the use of a handheld device or laptop computer as long as it was fitted with a PC card that supports 802.11b or Open Air wireless protocols (Gordon, 2001, paras. 1-3). One of the primary technological issues that Starbucks faced was the decision concerning who would provide the support necessary to make the Wi-Fi service effective and safe. Within Starbucks locations, Microsoft is providing the customers with a customized web browsing experience while Compaq provides LAN cards and iPaq Pocket PCs for loan or purchase (Marsan, 2001, para. 6). When a customer opens their web browser via a wireless device within a Starbucks location, a welcome screen will open providing information about current Starbucks promotions (Marsan, 2001, para. 11). This adds value to Starbucks’ marketing practices while simultaneously increasing brand recognition.
Conclusion
Starbucks claims that their customers view their locations as convenient places to work while drinking coffee (Hartnett, 2003, pg. 62). Starbucks embraces a lot of change in an effort to keep their customers interested in their business. While making a statement about Starbucks, one of their spokespersons has stated, “We do not embrace the status quo and constantly push for reinvention. This is a consistent, longstanding business philosophy to ensure we provide our customers the uplifting experience they have come to expect.” (Creamer, 2007, para. 11.) The idea surrounding Starbucks’ introduction of WiFI technology was to create “virtual offices” for their customers as a way to enhance their stores (Gordon, 2001, paras. 6 & 11). Wi-Fi capabilities within Starbucks locations will continue to add value to their company by attracting customers and better enabling their employees.

References
Creamer, M. (2007, Feb). Starbucks Wakes Up and Smells the Death of its Brand Experience. Advertising Age, 78(9), 3, 46. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Gordon, A. (2001, Mar). MobileStar to Land in Starbucks. MC Technology Marketing Intelligence, 21(3), 8. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Greene, T. (2003, Jul). Starbucks Gets Win-Win from Wi-Fi. Network World, 20(28), 1,56. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Hartnett, M. (2003, Oct). On the Menu: Latte, Biscotti, and Wi-Fi. Stores, 85(10), 62-66. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Henderson, T.P. (2001, Apr). Starbucks Prepares for Launch of In-Store Wireless Internet Service. Stores, 83(4), 66-70. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Marsan, C.D. (2001, Jun). Starbucks Wireless Network a Sweet Deal for MobileStar. Network World, 18(26), 1,83. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.
Powell, W. (2003, Jan). Tall Latte, with Wi-Fi? T+D, 57(1), 18-20. Retrieved June 3, 2007, from ProQuest database.…...

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