Starbucks Unveils Web Plans

After months of rumor and speculation, Starbucks' Web plans are finally coming into focus, and the well-known coffee retailer is looking to move past just selling coffee.

Starbucks can sell an expensive cup of coffee, but what about a magazine?

The retail coffee giant recently announced that Joe, a new magazine and corresponding Web site inspired by the coffeehouse tradition of conversation would be available exclusively in Starbucks stores across North America. Excerpts are also available online at Joe is produced under a joint agreement between Starbucks and Time Inc. Custom Publishing.

“General interest magazines — the magazines of ideas and writing — can get lost in a world of wildly cluttered newsstands and niche titles,” says Scott Mowbray, Managing Editor of Joe in a prepared statement. “But Starbucks presents a tremendous opportunity for Joe. Starbucks customers are interested and curious. They are a perfect audience for a magazine that explores the important, the beautiful, the funny and the provocative.”

The debut of Joe and demonstrate Starbucks’ desire to incorporate the Web with it successful brick-and-mortar coffee shops. Through its main Web site [], the company sells various products including its specialty coffees, teas, espresso machines and selected CDs. However, with the Internet economy booming, Starbucks is looking to forge a new identity online beyond that of a coffee retailer.

“Our partnership with Time Inc. to create Joe magazine and is another step toward converging print, the Internet and our retail stores into a seamless experience for our customers,” said Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks Corp. “It is our wish that Joe magazine and create conversation in the tradition of great coffeehouses.”

Starbucks is also looking to expand its e-commerce operations beyond its own Web site. The company recently announced a partnership with Oxygen Media [], a media company that operates a variety of Web sites geared toward women. Starbucks will sells its products and services via Oxygen Media’s Web sites. The two companies will also work together in the creation of content, cross-promotion and marketing of each other’s Web sites.

So, what is driving Starbucks’ multi-faceted, ambitious online plans? That answer can be found in the words of Howard Schulz. “We have 10 million customers who visit our locations weekly, and with 70 percent of these customers already online, we have an extremely loyal and Internet-savvy customer base,” he says in a prepared statement announcing the partnership with Oxygen Media.

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