Starbucks coffee and internet value-added services provider Tencent Holdings will co-create a social gifting feature on messaging app WeChat, which will be available in early 2017.
The new integrated feature will seamlessly allow customers in China to instantly and conveniently gift Starbucks to a friend or loved one, Starbucks said in a press statement on 7 December 2016. Starbucks customers are also now able to use WeChat Pay to make purchases at close to 2,500 Starbucks stores across Mainland China.
The feature will allow customers to select from Starbucks-branded gifts and products, and add a personalised message. Recipients of these gifts can save it on their WeChat accounts and redeem their gift at Starbucks stores across the country.
"This partnership will leverage the strengths of both Starbucks and WeChat to create a true online-to-offline social gifting platform that will deepen our engagement with our customers in a unique and powerful way," said Belinda Wong, Chief Executive Officer, Starbucks China.
The online social gifting platform is part of Starbucks' growing digital presence, which is focused on connecting with customers through digital channels. These include the Starbucks Mobile App, the My Starbucks Rewards programme, and social media.
As part of this partnership, Starbucks will introduce the use of WeChat Pay for purchases in its retail stores. This cash-free digital payment experience allows users to pay for their goods and services from their mobile devices.
Earlier this year, Starbucks launched a mobile payment system in China aiming at providing My Starbucks Rewards (MSR) members access to a fast and seamless way of paying for their purchases, using their pre-loaded Starbucks Gift Card on their mobile devices.
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