Microsoft Outlook users can now schedule meetings at Starbucks stores and send Starbucks eGift cards from their inbox.

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It’s not quite as tasty a pairing as coffee and doughnuts, but two locally based business giants are hoping people take to the combination of Starbucks and Outlook.

Starbucks has released an add-on that lets users of Microsoft’s Outlook email program schedule meetings at Starbucks stores and send Starbucks eGift cards right from their Outlook inbox.

The Starbucks for Outlook add-on is available in the Office Store to users of Outlook.com and Office 365 users with Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016 or Outlook on the web in the United States, according to Starbucks. (From early reviews, though, it looks like some people were having trouble downloading the add-on.)

The add-on creates command buttons on the user’s Outlook ribbon. From there, the user can click the “Meet at Starbucks” button to create a new meeting request, search for a specific Starbucks store and add it as the location of the meeting, or click the “Send eGift” button to choose an eGift card for the email recipient, according to Microsoft.

The Outlook add-on is among the latest in a series of initiatives Starbucks has undertaken recently to increase its appeal and reach.

It partnered with Chase to announce recently a new Starbucks Rewards prepaid card. The coffee giant has also previously announced partnerships involving its mobile app and rewards system with Spotify, The New York Times and Lyft.

— Janet I. Tu: jtu@seattletimes.com

‘Autonomous’ Amazon deliveries foreseen

As Amazon.com invests heavily in its ability to haul merchandise around the globe ever more quickly, its delivery capabilities might start to look like “Meet the Jetsons” in a decade or so, say analysts with Deutsche Bank.

In a hefty research note examining the intricacies of Amazon’s fulfillment operations, the analysts said they expect delivery to become “nearly fully autonomous,” likely bringing a daily “tote” to the homes of Prime members.

Right now, Amazon stores merchandise in a network of fulfillment centers in major markets. Products are shipped from there using UPS or FedEx, or through “sortation” centers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service and third-party deliverers. There are also an increasing number of pickup lockers in urban locations and college towns.

Amazon’s supply chain, Deutsche Bank says, might one day look something like this: gigantic, robot-operated fulfillment centers in Asia would source straight from the factories that make a lot of the stuff sold on the site. These warehouses would ship the packaged items to ports in the U.S. and Europe in vessels leased by Amazon, which would also have product sorting taking place onboard.

After reaching port, packages would be sent via planes or self-driving trucks to sortation centers close to customer homes, from where they’d be delivered via a combination of drones, third-party carriers, pickup lockers and “daily totes.”

Robots, either on wheels or zipping through the air, could become an especially important and cost-saving component of last-mile delivery service, per Deutsche’s crystal ball.

While Amazon pays $2 to $6 for the last-mile delivery of a typical shoebox-sized package, that amount could go down to 5 cents per mile with flying or driving robots.

“Admittedly, there will be constraints for using robots and drones for some deliveries but once the regulatory hurdles are cleared, Amazon is likely to ramp using robots and drones for delivery significantly,” the analysts say.

The Deutsche analysts say this version of the future is along the lines of what CEO Jeff Bezos originally envisioned for the company, a world where malls and brick-and-mortar retail would be replaced by online stores making daily deliveries at home or at pickup points.

“Amazon has been quietly building towards that future state,” the report says.

— Ángel González: agonzalez@seattletimes.com

Huge planes at big discount

Used Airbus A380 superjumbos are being offered at a 40 percent discount to the $2 million-plus monthly rental rate for a new plane as leasing firm Doric seeks to spur demand for the secondhand jets.

Doric is in talks with a number of potential operators for the series of double-deckers that could be returned by Singapore Airlines and Dubai-based Emirates starting in 2017 after the completion of 10-year leases, a Doric official told Bloomberg News.

Interested parties may be second-tier airlines that haven’t yet flown the A380, or charter carriers and companies that specialize in so-called wet-lease services, in which jets are provided for a limited term complete with crews.

“Each has a different business model, so it’s hard to make precise forecasts on the most likely future use,” Sibylle Paehler, the lessor’s managing director, said in an interview.

The main stumbling block is that “nobody wants to be first” in announcing a deal for a 550-seat plane whose popularity as a secondhand transport has yet to be demonstrated, Paehler said.

Doric, which co-owns the first five A380s that Singapore Air is entitled to return, is offering the jetliners as a whole or in bundles of two and three, since a single plane wouldn’t be enough to serve the average long-distance route.

Leases for as little as five years — half the usual lease term — could be accepted in order to maximize interest, Paehler said, adding that some carriers might want A380s only at certain times of the year such as the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, and that Doric is looking at ways to accommodate those needs.

Airbus has suggested the A380 might have a second life plying six- to eight-hour routes for low-cost Asian airlines. The manufacturer is continuing to seek fresh sales avenues after order momentum slowed in recent years, something that could complicate its participation in the marketing of used aircraft.

— Bloomberg News

Menswear dept. includes Tesla models

Shoppers at a Los Angeles Nordstrom can soon browse Tesla Motors’ cars while they’re in the men’s department.

A Tesla Gallery opened Saturday at Nordstrom in The Grove, a high-end shopping complex. The department-store collaboration is the first of its kind for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which operates its own stores and doesn’t sell through a traditional dealer network.

The 400-square-foot gallery will showcase Tesla’s new Model X SUV. Customers can’t buy a Tesla in the gallery, but they can explore trim options and go for a test ride with a Tesla employee.

Tesla spokeswoman Keely Sulprizio says the gallery will be open at least through the end of this year. Sulprizio says the automaker is working on obtaining a license to sell cars from the Nordstrom location.

— Associated Press