While both Starbucks and Luckin serve coffee, the similarities largely end there. Unlike Starbucks’ trademark coffee shops, most of Luckin’s outlets are tiny booths in out-of-the-way spots that take orders online for both delivery and pickup.
More important, Luckin has placed technology at the heart of its business from the start. Its outlets don’t accept cash, instead customers can only pay through the Luckin app, which offers loyalty bonuses.
China is Starbucks’ second biggest market after the United States. With around 3,000 stores across the country, it’s still bigger than Luckin. Starbucks plans to more than double that number by the end of 2022.
Luckin still faces long-term challenges. The company’s filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that it lost more than $240 million last year. Luckin said it could continue to lose money for the “forseeable future.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the stock market on which Luckin plans to list.