Starbucks is pivoting with the times ...

On Wednesday, Starbucks announced some sweeping changes to the company's business model to better adapt to consumers' needs in the age of COVID-19. For one, the chain is closing 400 company-owned locations over an 18-month period, as well as expanding contactless methods like drive-thru, curbside pickup, and walk-up counters across the country.

"As we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we are accelerating our store transformation plans to address the realities of the current situation, while still providing a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers," said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson a press release.

According to their "U.S. Store Portfolio transformation," the company is extending its reach of pickup options. Starbucks Pickup stores allow customers the convenience of ordering ahead and picking up their items without the crowding of a typical retail environment. The concept first launched at New York City's Penn Plaza in November 2019 to rave reviews, and they'll be extending it to major cities Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. They'll also renovate the spaces to include separate counters to optimize customers' convenience, particularly for delivery orders using Uber Eats.

The chain is also introducing curbside pickup to its rotation, along with launching locations that exclusively offer it. Customers can simply place their orders using the Starbucks App and wait in the designated parking area to have it brought to their cars. Drive-thru formats will be expanded to feature multiple lanes for ordering as well as the option of curbside pickup, and walk-up counters will be introduced in suburban areas.

COVID-19 has put a strain on retail spaces with store closures, but the coffee chain's focus on mobile interaction has given them a unique advantage in the current landscape. Before the pandemic took hold, over 80 percent of U.S. orders were placed using the Starbucks App, and at least 20 million people are Starbucks Rewards Members.

Despite the chain's planned closures, they'll be following through with the opening of 300 new stores this year, which is half of their intended goal of 600. You can locate your nearest store here.

Coffee lovers, what do you think of Starbucks' plans? Would you like to see these features offered after the pandemic? Sound off in the comments!