NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he plans to spend more time developing the coffee chain's rewards program, mobile payments and other digital projects of growing importance.
The announcement comes after Starbucks last week noted a "seismic" shift to online shopping during this past holiday season. Executives blamed the changes for its slower growth in the quarter, saying that fewer people milling about at malls meant fewer opportunities for them to stop in at their local Starbucks.
Still, Schultz has shot down the notion that the migration to online shopping will hurt Starbucks over the long term. He says Starbucks is using its various digital assets to deepen relationships with customers and get them to visit more often.
"I think there are enormous opportunities to take advantage of this," Schultz said in a call with analysts Wednesday to discuss various management changes that would free him up to focus on innovation.
In particular, Schultz said Starbucks could grow the company's rewards program, which lets customers win drinks or food by earning a "star" for each purchase. The company recently expanded the program to allow people to earn stars for the bagged Starbucks coffee they buy in supermarkets.
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