Starbucks brews up a link with China's largest LBS

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-09 15:21
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SHANGHAI — Almost 200 Starbucks outlets in East China are now linked to Jiepang, China's biggest location-based service (LBS).

Users of smartphones who "check in" with — or use — the Jeipang application at 190 Starbucks stores in East China will be able to win Starbucks Christmas gifts and cell phones until Dec 31. The cooperation began on Tuesday.

"We aim to build our shops as the third-most-visited place for our customers, after their homes and offices," said Xu Sheng, manager of the digital marketing department of the East China Starbucks. "We believe the best promotion for our products and events is information sharing among our customers."

The LBS requires knowledge about where the mobile device is located. The service can be query-based and provide users with useful information or deliver marketing information to users in the area.

"Jiepang users can share their experience in our shops with their LBS friends, which is better than commercial advertisement," Xu said.

Xu expects Jiepang users to share comments on special products for the Christmas season and two shopping parties on Nov 9 and Dec 23.

Starbucks offers a series of badges, a limited edition of Starbucks Christmas crystal ball, Starbucks yearbooks and HTC wildfire cell phones to award Jiepang users who "check in" at its outlets and share the shops' information most.

Foursquare, the biggest LBS in the United States, has been collaborating with Starbucks in the US since June. When users "check in" at Starbucks enough times, they can become the majors of their neighborhood Starbucks and receive a $1 discount.

David Liu, CEO and founder of Jiepang, said his cooperation with Starbucks in China is a big achievement for the recent startup business.

"Starbucks will offer Jiepang users in China with many substantial awards and attract more smartphone users sign up for our service," he said.

Jiepang has coordinated with many brands, including Nike, Dell and HTC, in Beijing.

It was launched in May in China and more than 150,000 smartphone users have signed up for the application.

Liu and his team are expecting to link with more companies and attract more than 1 million users by the end of this year.

"The LBS is different from the traditional social networking service. It can really change the users' social life and create more offline activities," the 25-year-old CEO said.

By "checking in" the service, users share their location and are able to meet other users in the same area.

Liu believes the new social networking service will increase opportunities of user's in person social interactions.

"It helps our users make friends from the virtual world to our real life."