The best thing about Starbucks Coffee, besides the coffee itself, is its consistency. Go into any chain worldwide and an iced grande three-pump vanilla latte translates to the same drink every single time.
For Starbucks Coffee Singapore, it’s also about consistency – plus a whole lot more. Here, customers are treated to community-inspired stores, which focus on sustainability, innovation and the importance of human connection. “We invest in technology, we invest in customer service and we invest in our people,” says Starbucks Coffee Singapore General Manager Patrick Kwok.
“The most important being the investment in our people. We’ve optimised the business to allow them more time to take care of themselves, the business and our customers.”
In doing so, Starbucks Coffee Singapore has created a ripple effect. Now, when customers come into their stores, they’re greeted by genuinely happy people. Patrick says it’s helping them build a solid foundation in Singapore.
“As our second market to open in Asia, Singapore has been an important part of our international momentum since 1996,” he says. “Today, Starbucks is the undisputed coffee leader in Singapore’s specialty coffee-house sector, and a significant part of the daily coffee ritual for our customers island-wide.”
The Starbucks brand in Singapore is second to none. Patrick works hard to give each of the 150 stores he runs a personal touch. “Every store has its own theme,” he shares. “It’s inspired by coffee and each community’s culture and history. We fit the Starbucks store to the community.”
Take the brand’s flagship Jewel Changi Airport store, for instance. Spanning two storeys, this Starbucks features indoor landscaping, polished interiors, an art room housing a collection of original works and a stunning display of artisanal woodwork – all designed to extend Jewel Changi Airport’s lush forest concept and greenery into the store.
The menu features freshly baked treats, gourmet sandwiches, frothy nitro brews, delectable affogatos and coffee floats, many of which have an inspiring local twist.
“The Jewel store showcases all of our latest innovations,” Patrick says. From its four-tap nitro – which serves up to nine nitrogen-infused beverages like nitro flat whites, nitro caramel macchiatos and nitro teas – to its onsite bakery and coffee-infused ice cream, it’s a store that Patrick is incredibly proud of. The innovative stores are only one part of Starbucks Coffee Singapore’s dynamic technology plan. Recently, the company released a new feature of its mobile app, called Mobile Order & Pay. This allows customers to skip the queue by ordering and paying in advance.
“These technologies help us enhance our speed, while also being rather fun and seamless,” he says. “We know there is a demand for this service in Singapore, where convenience is king.”
Keeping with the theme, Patrick says they will continue to stay focused on technology and innovation throughout 2020. “We want to digitalise everything,” he shares. “Doing so will heighten our efficiency and hence utilisation within the organisation, from our retail partners through to our customers. We want total innovation in our systems.”
“These technologies help us enhance our speed, while also being rather fun and seamless.”
To help Starbucks Coffee Singapore with its technology endeavours, partnerships with businesses like Axionsplus and Ascentis have been crucial. “These collaborations are very enriching for ourselves and our partners, and serve to really enhance customer experiences,” Patrick says. “Our customers benefit from exciting innovations and enhanced touchpoints.”
These partnerships are also vital for growth. “We grow together,” he says. “For that reason, our supplier partners like Parmalat Australia are pleased with our growth because we take them with us.”
Starbucks Coffee Singapore also sends its partners, including baristas and staff, to visit various coffee farms around the world. Doing so helps them not only understand what Starbucks does but also the why behind doing it. “This is how we share our coffee passion and our coffee commitment with everyone,” Patrick shares.
“It’s all about ethical sourcing and helping local farmers create a life. Starbucks donates to local schools and helps uplift communities. Ethical sourcing means that the coffee we buy is good for farmers, good for the environment, and good for Starbucks and our customers.”
Patrick has gone to the coffee farms a number of times, but his favourite visit was to one that Starbucks started in Costa Rica. “I had a great time there,” he remembers.
“I got to see all the ways they respected the environment. For example, they used less water during processing and taught local farmers that such techniques create widespread change. They also did a great job helping me understand all the processes, from how to grow the beans to how to do the harvesting and processing in only three days. It was a very packed schedule, but I learned a lot.”
These trips reignite Patrick’s “why”, and Starbucks Coffee Singapore – and the planet – is better because of it. “Beyond ethically sourcing our coffee beans, we want to be the leader in sustainability, and we know this extends to our instore practices,” Patrick says.
“We want to be the leader in sustainability.”
“We replaced items in our stores such as cups, lids, stirrers and cutlery for items made with corn starch-based material or post-consumer fibre, which are compostable. It’s something we promote, the five Rs – reduce, re-use, recycle, review and remind ourselves how to be better leaders in sustainability.”
And, it’s an initiative that’s passed on to the customers. Staff, also called partners, are encouraged to champion sustainability to everyone who walks through the doors of Starbucks Coffee Singapore. By providing customers with discounts for bringing their own reusable cups from home, they encourage change in a positive way.
Even with all of the success the brand has had, Patrick continues to forge onwards looking for more. Doing so won’t be without its own set of challenges, but Patrick is certain he and his team can handle whatever comes their way.
“You have to be prepared. You optimise, you set different platforms in place to maintain business. We have really strong products and a strong team. These things help us prepare for all the challenges. We face them with preparation and hard work,” he says.
And, with a strong coffee in hand – Patrick starts every day off with an Americano, extra shot, to stay on top of his game. “I only do one coffee a day,” he says. “I want to make sure it’s perfect.”
Patrick’s first stint with Starbucks was as Head of Operations in Hong Kong and Macau from 2013. Then, in September 2017, he accepted his current position, making him responsible for overseeing all facets of Starbucks Coffee Singapore. Today, he’s even a certified Starbucks Coffee Master.
“I always wanted to be a leader; it’s been my dream,” he says. “The best part is creating connections with people. We want to build a strong family culture within our organisation. In fact, my leadership team is composed of strong and wonderful women. We plug into this, and it helps us focus on how to help each other and build a stronger Starbucks in Singapore.”
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