Retail

JD.com Launches SEVEN FUN Experiential Store; Walmart To Put Focus On Supercenters

JD.com

Retailers are designing brick-and-mortar spaces around experiences to attract and keep customers.

Chinese eCommerce retailer JD.com, in one case, has just rolled out its inaugural SEVEN FUN lifestyle space in Galaxy SOHO in Beijing. It is described as “one of a kind in China” and “pioneers a unique combination of dining + drinking + social,” along with daily groceries, according to a post from the company.

The first SEVEN FUN provides consumers with a choice of over 3,500 different items, including baked goods, fresh food, groceries and fresh flowers. It also offers diners 12 eateries that serve international delicacies along with three bars that provide Japanese sake, craft beer and wine. The store also functions as a place for gatherings, and it can be rented as a networking or socializing space.

The post described SEVEN FUN as a brand under JD’s 7FRESH, which has been described in the past by JD.com as its “premium offline stores focused on fresh food.”

“As a lifestyle retailer, SEVEN FUN is innovating the retail landscape in China,” said Jonathan Wang, head of 7FRESH, JD.com, said in the post. “Through this concept, JD.com provides an unprecedented ‘SOLOMOME’ (social, local, mobile and personalized) offline experience that serves as a pioneering model for future brick-and-mortar stores.”

The post also noted that shoppers can order any item in the store from the 7FRESH app to be sent to them.

The concept was created to meet the preferences of working professionals between the ages of 26 and 45 in first-tier cities and provide “not just a space but a lifestyle,” the company stated. It noted in the post that “as global consumers are shifting from going to the store to buy products to going to the store to experience products and buy services, delivering experiences has been essential for retailers to attract and retain consumers.” The company also said the concept “is a destination offering networking and fun, rather than purely a destination to make a purchase.”

Beyond China, grocery retailers are rolling out new stores in cities to serve as culinary destinations with eateries as well as features designed for city living. Wegmans, in one case, was opening a store at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard replete with dining experiences, according to news in April. The 74,000-square-foot space was to feature a second-floor mezzanine complete with almost 100 seats for a market café. The store was also to have a bar with food, wine, beer and spirits.

From Wegmans to 7Fresh and the U.S. to China, grocery retail innovators are designing their stores around experiences to make them destinations for shoppers.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News

Walmart is planning to make its supercenters the hub of a network of businesses to thrive in the eCommerce age as it takes on Amazon. Doug McMillon, the retailer’s president and CEO, said during a strategy meeting that supercenters are the focus of the firm’s plan. The stores are large operations offering 100,000 items and are about 180,000 square feet.

The retailer also intends to create “edge computing” capacity in which data is processed nearer to where it is gathered. The system could be rented out with new demand from self-driving vehicles and other innovations that may tap into technology to quickly sift through data. The refocusing on the large stores that Walmart began crating in 1980 marks a departure from a strategy detailed only a year prior.

In other news, holiday sales rose at Tiffany & Co. even with challenges in Hong Kong and Japan. The jewelry firm had double-digit sales increases in mainland China, which were offset by Hong Kong’s declines. Global sales increased roughly 1 percent to 3 percent from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve in comparison to the same time last year.

Japan, however, turned out to be a challenge for the jewelry retailer, with sales declining 12 percent to 14 percent over the period after taking out currency fluctuation impacts. Sales in the retailer’s Asia-Pacific region rose 7 percent to 9 percent after adjusting for currency movements. Sales increased 2 percent to 4 percent in the Americas.

Meanwhile, Central Retail Corporation is looking to raise up to 81.1 billion baht (approximately $2.7 billion) in what would be the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in Thailand. The company said funds raised would be used to pay off debt as well as grow its international and domestic businesses.

Central Retail had 106 billion baht ($3.46 billion) in revenue in the six months that ended in June. It has 2,000 stores in Thailand. As it stands, there has been refreshed interest in the capital markets of the country, headed up by conglomerate spin-offs and inaugural share sales from billionaire families.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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