What every online business can learn from Starbucks cafes and their interior redesign

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 7 years and the one thing you could always count on was being able to go into a local Starbucks cafe and feel at home.

You could take a few friends and just relax with your coffee at a table inside or outside. It was an arrangement of tables that were strategically positioned to make the space communal.

Looking around, you would see people on first dates or selling things from Craigslist or college students doing work on their laptops or reading on their Kindles.

You get the point – It was very comfortable, it felt like home.

Then a few months ago, Starbucks started shutting down the stores for a few days for “renovations”.

interiorWhen the stores opened back up, they were a nightmare. Some of the tables remained but they had these benches with these stiff seats.

You see the rumor was, people were coming to the store and hanging out all day but NOT buying anything.

The new setup was designed to change that. Less comfortable meant people would keep it moving.

In, pay and get out so the next customer could come in. More customers then theoretically more profits.

Here’s the problem. Even if that’s true, what about all the customers who don’t come back?

The ones who feel bothered by all the changes. Heck, the one who bothered to put up a blog post about it that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people before the end of the year?

There’s no right answer here. Starbucks is a business and they have to do what’s right for Starbucks but it’s a good lesson for every website owner.

Is your site designed to be comfortable and nurturing or designed purely for commerce? Is it meant to be both?

What mix of customers do you want for your blog? Is it important to you that VISITORS come back day after day and hang out occasionally buying or do you want CUSTOMERS who may only come once and never return?

Every business has to struggle with decisions like these and online we have to think about that as well.

These decisions should be made at the Web Design and Web Development phases of your online business cycle.

Depending on what you are trying to sell and what type of customer you’re trying to attract, these decisions could be the difference between success and failure.

So what about you?

Have you had to face these types of tradeoffs in your web journey? Use the comments and let me know…

Leave a Comment Below

  • Smart stuff, Onuora. I haven’t noticed the changes in Starbucks’ in my area. However, if I do, they’ll lose a regular in me. I stop there and don’t mind paying more for coffee or snacks, just so I have a comfortable place to do some work.

  • Very nice article! I couldn’t agree more. Starbucks better not be losing sight of why they’re so successful. People like the coffee and other products, but they also like conducting meetings or going there to get work done. They’re taking a big, AND DUMB, risk here in my opinion.

    • That’s the thing I don’t understand. By all accounts, Starbucks is doing well. This seems like a drastic change for a company that doesn’t need it. This is like Apple completely redesigning the iPhone. Why?

  • Thanks for posting this. I had no clue this was happening. Why is it happening? I know you said it’s to get more people in and out, but it seems contradictory to everything they’ve stood for for years now. I don’t get it.

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