Digital Transformation. Alibaba revolutionizes shopping by combining ‘online’ with ‘offline’ at Hema supermarkets.


Digital Transformation. Alibaba revolutionizes shopping by combining ‘online’ with ‘offline’ at Hema supermarkets.

Thomas Reiner | 22.07.2019

Alibaba wants to create an online and offline symbiosis with its supermarket concept Hema. Where pain points typically frustrate consumers as they shop, a shopping experience without barriers is to be created, with unrestrained pleasure to prevail. Alibaba is confident and has big plans with Hema.

In China, 80% of retail sales are still generated in brick-and-mortar retail, despite Chinese consumers having the highest global e-commerce. Alibaba boss Jack Ma therefore wants the best of both worlds. For him retail is not a question of online or offline, but of the optimal symbiosis.

The main points of attack of the Hema supermarket concept include three pain points that frustrate consumers in their usual shopping:

  1. Finding the right or desired product.
    In Hema supermarkets, customers can scan every item with their smartphone and retrieve detailed information. This includes complementary or related product recommendations. On the next visit to the supermarket, the customer will receive new recommendations based on his purchases and information retrieval in the past. For instance, if someone prefers the freshly caught fish to ready to eat rather than delivered in a natural state, can have it be prepared in the market by a chef.

  2. Waiting in line to pay.
    When the purchase is complete, customers scan their shopping cart at the checkout terminal and pay with Alibaba’s own Alipay app, which checks and approves the process via face recognition. Another option: Customers can order their purchases online and pick them up at the pickup station.
  3. Carrying products home.
    Hema offers a delivery service around the clock. If you live within a radius of three kilometers of a Hema, your online order will be delivered around the clock within 30 minutes.

The first Hema was launched in 2016. Currently, a new market opens on average every 6 days.

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