Luckin Coffee’s minimalist stores, where customers must order drinks through an app before a barista hands them their coffee, have spread rapidly through China since operations began around a year and a half ago. But could the chain go one step further and take humans out of the ordering process altogether?
Publicly available business records show that a Luckin unit in Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan province, has now registered the operation of drinks vending machines as one of its business activities. A Luckin spokesperson told Caixin she was unaware of the change and declined to comment.
Nasdaq-listed Luckin, which also offers delivery services, has become one of China’s biggest coffee chains thanks to its aggressive push to open up more stores, and the massive discounts it offers customers. Compared to rival Starbucks, Luckin’s selling point is speed, and most of its physical stores are little more than pick-up counters.
The cost of rapidly expanding has meant Luckin continues to post big losses — it reported a net loss of 573 million yuan ($83 million) in the first quarter, despite revenue of 479 million yuan. The introduction of vending machines to its stores could help it cut costs.
Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (firstname.lastname@example.org)