What happened

Shares of Luckin Coffee (NASDAQ:LK) were up 11.7% as of 3:05 p.m. EST Wednesday after the Chinese coffee shop chain announced plans for deploying new "smart" unmanned coffee and vending machines.

So what

In a press release late Tuesday, Luckin said it will enter the "unmanned retail market" via the launch of its Luckin Coffee Express coffee machine and its Luckin Pop Mini smart vending machines. The terminals will use a variety of cutting-edge features (the company says they're "empowered by IoT, big data, facial recognition, and other advanced technologies").

Man wearing white shirt, extending coffee in a to-go cup.

Image source: Getty Images.

"Luckin Coffee is dedicated to building a closed-loop smart retail platform with our own customer traffic and our own products," CEO Jenny Zhiya Qian said. "We will continue to grow both own traffic and products, improve brand value, expand the scale of our platform, and create more value for our customers."

Now what

The company also said it owned 4,507 self-operated stores at the end of 2019, serving more than 40 million cumulative customers. The unmanned machines will be strategically installed in places such as office buildings, airports, bus terminals, school campuses, gas stations, and residential communities to supplement Luckin's existing store network.

These new machines could represent a significant source of incremental growth for Luckin's already fast-growing consumer discretionary brand. And the stock is responding in kind.