Alibaba To Open 30 New Hema Supermarkets In Beijing
China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, has announced plans to open 30 Hema supermarkets in Beijing by the end of 2018, thereby more than doubling its physical store portfolio.
The retailer’s five current Hema supermarkets in Beijing already serve as many as 1.5 million of the capital's residents, who can have their groceries delivered to them in as quickly as 30 minutes, according to Alibaba.
The move more than doubles is Chinese presence, which currently includes 25 stores in seven cities. Most of them are currently in Shanghai, with 14 stores, as well as five in Beijing, two in Ningpo, and one each in Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Suzhou and the south-western city of Guiyang.
The Beijing expansion is part of Alibaba’s 2018 strategy of ‘New Retail’, which aims to 'marry online with offline, offering consumers a more efficient and flexible shopping experience'.
The city will serve as the first testing ground for Alibaba Group to realise its new ‘three-kilometre ideal living community concept’, to create communities empowered by convenient, online-offline services driven by the group’s technology and infrastructure.
It will start with a mobile app designed to research products while consumers browse in store, according to Alibaba. Payments will be handled through Alipay, the mobile-payment platform owned by Alibaba’s related company, Ant Financial.
The data collected from transactions is then used to offer personalised recommendations, while geographic data helps to plan the most efficient delivery routes, according to Alibaba.
Eat And Shop
Hema stores also provide customers with a dining area and the opportunity to eat a selection of fresh food as they shop, the retailer said. The Shilipu branch, in Beijing, for example, accommodates space for up to 100 people.
In addition to the retailer’s Beijing focus for 2018, it announced the planned openings of its first stores in Fuzhou, Chengdu and Guangzhou.
“We are rapidly expanding nationally and globally,” said Yi Hou, chief executive officer of Hema. “Opening 30 stores is a commitment we’re making to consumers in Beijing.”
The retailer's online retail competitor, JD.com, recently forayed into the physical retail territory by opening its first chain of high-tech supermarkets in Beijing, under the banner 7Fresh.