Retail

Alibaba To Launch Three Hybrid Hema Supermarket Stores

When two modes of shopping really love each other…

Wait, no — scratch that. When two modes of shopping hate each other and one is cannibalizing the other, they can still come together to create something to weather the ages. We’re talking about a brick-and-mortar and digital commerce hybrid, of course.

This hybridized “new retail” model blends elements of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping with the convenience and transparency of eCommerce to provide consumers with the best of both worlds.

At least, that seems to be founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma’s vision.

On Monday, Alibaba announced the advent of three new Hema stores — physical supermarkets located in Beijing and Shanghai — as part of its omnichannel strategy. The first Hema stores debuted in 2015, offering grocery delivery to customers within three kilometers of each of its 13 locations.

At the new Hema stores, customers will be able to shop, dine and order groceries from their smartphones, and pay for it all with Alipay — Alibaba’s mobile payments platform. In addition, every barcode in the store will be a gateway to pricing and product information, meaning shoppers can simply scan packages with their phones to find out more.

Analysts project this move by Alibaba could be a trendsetter for other online retailers who wish to tap into the vast number of Chinese consumers still shopping brick-and-mortar retail. China’s online retail market remains underpenetrated at just 15 percent of total retail market size, CNBC reported.

The Hema app remembers purchase preferences and makes personalized recommendations based on shopping history. It also uses location data to display a data-driven selection of fresh food for sale on a nearby physical store shelf.

Customers with an existing Taobao or Alipay account can sign up for a Hema membership.

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