Shanghai’s retail sector buoyed by innovative tactics
Chen Shuhua no longer needs to make the long walk to the wet market to do her grocery shopping. It is a welcome relief, especially on scorching summer days, thanks to a food vending machine located a stone’s throw away from home.
All she needs to do is tap her finger on a screen to select the products she needs, swipe a pre-paid card and collect the produce, which can range from fruits, fish and poultry.
“It’s so convenient. I no longer need to walk 20 minutes to go to the market before I can prepare meals. It’s such a life-saver,” Chen quipped.
The vending machine is developed and operated by E-Cooktime Ltd, a Shanghaibased grocery trade company. Customers also have the option of pre-ordering items before collecting them at the machine.
According to market insiders, such innovations in the retail industry have led to a jump in revenues. In Shanghai, retail sales of consumer goods hit 483.29 billion yuan ($76.34 billion) in the first half of this year, an 8.2 percent year-onyear increase, according to statistics by authorities.
However, innovations have not been limited to out-ofstore tech gadgets like vending machines. Many department stores too have jumped on the innovation bandwagon by revamping their operations, hoping to draw customers by offering a variety of retail options. Instead of adhering to the old model of dedicating an entire floor to a single department, customers today can find a good mix of fashion boutiques, pop-up stores, restaurants and shops offering various lifestyle amenities on the same floor.
“While I do shop online nowadays for lower prices and convenience, I also find myself shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and pop-up shops more often than before because there will always be something you can only get in the stores,” said Wang Jushan, a 26-yearold Shanghai consumer.
Shanghai’s retail sector has for years been undergoing a transformation in tandem with the city’s economic reforms, having shifted from a simple distribution system to a much more competitive market-oriented structure. Authorities say that this transition is helping drive economic growth.
Premium brands such as Gucci, Prada, Coach and Apple have also seen increasing sales in Shanghai in the first half of 2015, according to data by the city’s commerce authorities. The IFC Mall, a renowned enclave for luxury brands in Shanghai’s financial hub of Lujiazui, recorded sales revenues of more than 2.9 billion yuan in the first half of 2015, a 23.69 percent year-on-year increase.
Some shopping malls have attempted to lure customers by bringing in art exhibitions. A showcase of works by Pablo Picasso is scheduled to take place at the Global Harbor shopping mall, the largest shopping center in Shanghai, later this year.
“We wish to create a space that not only offers products to consumers, but also inspire those who come to this place,” said He Mo, a Global Harbor spokesperson.
The K11 Art Mall, which received overwhelming response to its Claude Monet exhibition last year, has been preparing for another showcase this November that will feature works by Salvadore Dali, said Jessica Ye, assistant manager of marketing at K11. According to data provided by the mall, art exhibitions usually help boost sales revenues by up to 20 percent.
“Shanghai’s enterprises are being innovative with their service and retail models to boost domestic consumption. The positive data and the new look of the retail sector in the city are giving us more confidence in the city’s economic growth,” said Shang Yuying, director of the Shanghai Commission of Commerce.