Jamba Blends Well With PayPal

PayPal continues its bricks-and-mortar invasion.

eBay's (NASDAQ: EBAY  ) popular financial platform announced deals this week with several traditional retailers. Building on last year's push for real-world relevancy, there are now 23 chains -- watching over 18,000 stores between them -- that now accept PayPal at the checkout register.

One of the new partners is Jamba (NASDAQ: JMBA  ) , and PayPal can even come in handy without ever stepping up to the register.

The leading smoothie chain is now accepting PayPal for pre-pay orders at one of its California locations. Aspiring fruit-drink sippers place their orders online -- through the PayPal smartphone app -- and choose the pickup time. They can then bypass the cashier and go straight to the pickup counter when they arrive at the Emeryville store.

Now, it's true that Jamba's been offering pre-order convenience for those paying with traditional credit and debit cards for years. Jamba is that kind of forward-thinking company. However, attaching itself as one of the first two dozen retailers testing PayPal as a transactional platform shows that the growing franchise is making sure that it stays ahead of the blender-whirring pack.

Jamba has plenty of momentum these days.

The stock soared 71% higher in 2012, and the shares are already trading nearly 10% higher early in 2013. After the company posted back-to-back profitable quarters during the seasonally potent spring and summer seasons last year, analysts see Jamba coming through with its first annual profit in 2013.

Starbucks validated the smoothie market with its 2011 acquisition of Evolution Fresh, but it will take years before the java giant fleshes out its juice bar chain to challenge Jamba's market dominance.

Jamba's big -- and getting bigger.

The 788-unit chain introduced new concept stores and formats yesterday, promising to refresh and redesign its existing stores over the next four years. Its expansion goals for 2013 are ambitious. It plans to open 60 to 80 new stores worldwide, while also adding 1,000 self-serve JambaGO locations and 100 limited-menu Smoothie Stations. It will also refresh as many as 100 stores with the new sleek redesign.

Then again, if PayPal's test expands beyond the Emeryville test store, it's not as if patrons will have too long to admire the new digs.

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