Starbucks Rolls Out Acoustic Dampening and Accessibility Features in New Stores

Starbucks enhances accessibility and reduces noise in its stores, installing acoustic dampening features and introducing other inclusive design elements to improve customer experience.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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Starbucks Rolls Out Acoustic Dampening and Accessibility Features in New Stores

Starbucks Rolls Out Acoustic Dampening and Accessibility Features in New Stores

Starbucks is implementing a range of new design elements in its stores to enhance accessibility and reduce noise levels . The company plans to install acoustic dampening baffles or foams in the ceilings of all new U.S. locations and around 1,000 renovated stores by October 2024. These acoustic treatments are aimed at minimizing noise and reverberations to improve order accuracy and the overall customer experience.

The noise reduction efforts are part of Starbucks' Inclusive Space Framework, which focuses on improving accessibility through features such as better paths of travel, power-operated doors with longer vertical buttons, and optimized acoustics and lighting. Starbucks North America President Sara Trilling stated that reducing noise will enhance order accuracy and customer satisfaction, as noisy environments can make it challenging for workers to hear directives correctly.

In addition to the acoustic upgrades, Starbucks is introducing adjustable lighting in the form of dimmers and power screens on exterior windows to reduce daytime glare and shadows. The company has also incorporated other accessibility features, including an overhanging shelf for customers with wheelchairs, power chairs, strollers, or service dogs, a point-of-sale system that transcribes customer orders, and the Aira app to guide blind or low-vision guests.

Why this matters: Starbucks' move to enhance accessibility and reduce noise in its stores is seen as a significant step in making retail spaces more inclusive. It demonstrates the growing focus on inclusive design in various settings, as it benefits everyone, not just those with specific accessibility needs.

Starbucks opened its first location with these new accessibility and noise reduction features in Washington, D.C. in February 2024. The company's efforts align with a broader trend in the retail industry, with major retailers like Walmart also introducing sensory-friendly experiences in their stores. As inclusive design becomes a key focus, Starbucks' initiatives serve as an example for other businesses looking to create more welcoming and accessible environments for all customers.

Key Takeaways

  • Starbucks to install acoustic dampening in 1,000 US stores by Oct 2024.
  • Noise reduction aims to improve order accuracy and customer experience.
  • Starbucks introduces adjustable lighting, wheelchair-accessible features, and Aira app.
  • Inclusive design benefits all customers, not just those with accessibility needs.
  • Starbucks' initiatives set an example for other retailers to create accessible spaces.