Shang­hai’s re­tail sec­tor buoyed by in­no­va­tive tac­tics

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WU YIYAO in Shang­hai

wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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