by Kevin Coupe

I thought I was done with this. But then I got the email that you see at left, and it ticked me off all over again.

The email refers to an announcement that Starbucks made several weeks ago, that is is closing down its online store, and cancelling all subscriptions to coffee held by online customers. This would include me - two pounds of Verona, ground, every month for years. That’s what the email says: now, I have to buy my coffee at the local Starbucks store (or, I supposed, the local supermarket).

My argument several weeks ago was that this simply doesn’t make sense - Starbucks is setting free people who essentially are captive customers, giving them the opportunity to try other products from other purveyors and retailers. But I had settled in, and was trying to figure out what to do next.

Then I got this email. And I actually got angrier.

Because I think this is stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

(Yes, I know I’m obsessing about this a bit. It’s just that I think this is so stupid…)

That said, I’ve figured out my next coffee move. Blondie Brazil Fazenda Helena coffee from City Girl Coffee of Duluth, Minnesota, a women-owned business that sources coffee only from women-owned farms, donating money to nonprofits that support these women in their countries of origin.

I now have a subscription. And City Girl has a captive customer. I trust they’ll hold onto me better and longer than Starbucks.

This lesson should resonate with every retailer. When you have a customer, hold onto that person tight. Nurture the relationship every chance you get. Learn everything you can about that customer, and then act on that information.

And do whatever you can not to let that customer go.

That’s what Starbucks did. And it is an Eye-Opener.

I’m done with this now. (I think.)