Wel­come to hy­brid world of shop­ping

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS -

stores with on­line ser­vices.

Known as on­line-to-off­line, this fresh food startup is rac­ing ahead and has steadily ex­panded its net­work of su­per­mar­kets since it opened its first out­let last year. Now, it has nine stores in Shang­hai, one in Ningbo and one in Bei­jing.

Most su­per­mar­kets have more than 3,000 kinds of prod­ucts. In the seafood sec­tor, cus­tomers se­lect what they want to buy, pay for it on­line be­fore hav­ing it cooked to or­der.

Or they can do the same on­line and have their or­ders de­liv­ered within 30 min­utes as long as they are within three kilo­me­ters of the store.

“Up to 80 per­cent of the com­pany’s cus­tomers are born in the 1980s and 1990s (or Mil­len­ni­als),” said Hou Yi, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Hema Xian­sheng. “They are in­ter­net na­tives.

“This gen­er­a­tion has grown up in an in­creas­ingly af­flu­ent China,” he added. “There­fore, they care more about qual­ity and are less sen­si­tive to prices.”

Still, what is im­por­tant is that the food is fresh and de­liv­ered on time.

As soon as you walk into a Hema Xian­sheng su­per­mar­ket, you hear a rattling sound above with shop­pers and em­ploy­ees rush­ing around with mo­bile de­vices, pick­ing up pro­duce and other prod­ucts from the shelves.

They then bun­dle them into shop­ping bags be­fore some are clipped to hang­ers. At the touch of a but­ton, they are lifted to­ward the ceil­ing on over­head con­veyor belts.

By us­ing this busi­ness plan, the off­line stores dou­ble as the ware­hous­ing, sort­ing and de­liv­ery cen­ters for its on­line su­per­mar­ket.

Last year, shop­ping on­line was worth 4.7 tril­lion yuan, an in­crease of 24.7 per­cent com­pared to 2015, ac­cord­ing to iRe­search, a mar­ket con­sul­tancy based in Bei­jing.

“The key­words for re­tail­ers are equal­ity and in­ter­ac­tion,” said Wu Zhige, as­so­ciate re­search di­rec­tor at IDC China. “Re­tail­ers should cre­ate new shop­ping mod­els and ad­vance the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of their dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels.”

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