Whatever Happened To Starbucks' Online Merch Store?

With just about everything moving online these days, it's hard to imagine any brand on the market shuttering its online business. But the seemingly impossible happened in 2017 when Starbucks decided to close its online store and moved to give customers a mostly brick-and-mortar shopping experience. If you don't know what it was, the Starbucks online store was a treasure trove of coffee-related merchandise and more for coffee aficionados and Starbucks enthusiasts.

You could buy a variety of Starbucks merch there, including everything from siren-branded insulated mugs and tumblers to French presses and coffee pour-overs. The catalog also included fresh coffee beans, Starbucks bottled and canned drinks, and even coffee-making ingredients like Starbucks' signature syrups and sauces that you could use to make your very own Starbucks-style drinks at home. Before it was discontinued, the store even had a fairly popular subscription program that delivered Starbucks ready-to-drink coffee and teas right to your doorstep. Of course, the end of the online store also meant the end of this program.

Instead of serving customers through its own online outlet, the company pivoted to strengthen collaborations with other brands. That's why, as of 2023, if you want to buy Starbucks products, you'll only find them at physical Starbucks locations — or at the outlets of its partners, like Walmart, Target, and some grocery stores. Amazon also offers a limited selection of Starbucks products.

Why the change of heart?

The decision to close the online store mostly came as part of Starbucks' broader initiative to streamline the company's sales channels. According to Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz during an earnings call in the months leading up to the decision (via The New York Times), he wished to turn every retail location into an "experiential destination" for customers. 

Starbucks has always prided itself on fostering a warm, welcoming in-person environment for its baristas and customers alike. Its products were always meant to be sampled in stores, and nixing the online would likely encourage customers to come in and savor the experience in person rather than buying them through the impersonal void of the Internet. In essence, with the online store's closure, the company hoped to attract more people to its physical Starbucks locations – which were already designed to offer a special experience — with the goal of increasing in-store merchandise purchases in the process.

Starbucks has tens of thousands of retail locations around the world and a strong presence in grocery stores and online marketplaces, so closing the online store might not have significantly impacted its finances. But it did leave a void in the hearts of Starbucks enthusiasts. Many people expressed their dismay on social media after the online store closed in 2017. Some were so nostalgic for Starbucks items that, for a time, there was even a jug of Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup being sold online for $100!