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As COO, Alstead already has a highly favorable reputation within the industry and among investors, she added.

With the company’s group presidents and other divisions all reporting to him, Starbucks is better positioned to handle cross-pollination of ideas, processes and best practices across its global portfolio, she said.

Schultz, who has long established his reputation as an out-of-the-box thinker, did not give specifics on next steps, but promised Starbucks would see great opportunity by leveraging its industry-leading assets in the digital world as consumers increasingly embrace the use of mobile and digital technologies and do their shopping online.

During the first quarter, for example, Starbucks guests loaded $1.4 billion on the chain’s loyalty and gift cards around the world, including $610 million in the U.S. and Canada alone.

“There’s no question consumers are rapidly embracing it, and it’s evolving to the point where your digital wallet will be the primary currency of how you pay for things,” he said.

Schultz said further investments in mobile payment and digital loyalty programs, along with e-commerce, will “create more stickiness, more loyalty and more frequency” within the company’s core coffeehouse business.

“There are things we can take advantage of and leverage that are outside of the ecosystems of Starbucks,” Schultz added. “This new organizational change will free me up to create and innovate, not only around mobile pay, but new channels in which we can cross-promote and cross-reward customers.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout