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Alibaba Reinforces Its New Retail By Hema

alibaba infuses new retail with hema

Alibaba Opens Up 65 New Retail Stores Powered By Hema To Merge Online And Offline Retail

The Alibaba Hema Store

The onset of Alibaba Hema stores have now added a new twist to the old Chinese joke that said ‘The Chinese people like to live near good public schools’ but now it’s replaced with ‘The Chinese people want to live close to the Hemas, because they can now get everything delivered to them very easily!’

The Chinese tech giant that is valued at $500 million plans to go after the offline world to establish its presence. The investments in physical retail stores has helped the company fulfil its ‘New Retail’ vision with Hema.

What Is Hema?

This video that is self-explanatary gives you a gist of what we tell you about Hema

The fresh food-focused supermarket offers customers the ability to shop in-store or on its app, see the origins of the products in the store, have food delivered for free or prepared for pickup within 30 minutes, and pay with facial recognition technology.

alibaba infuses new retail with hema app

The name Hema stands for ‘Boxed/packaged freshness and liveliness”. The clever name choice happens to be its selling point even in the long run keeping in mind the ‘stale food’ stigma that inhibits online food purchase for most Chinese people. It promises ultra-fresh meat, veggies, fruit and sea food.

Where are they located?

There are over 65 Hema Xiansheng locations in China. Most are located in high-end shopping malls or mixed-used developments close to where Chinese people both work and live. Core to Hema’s model is that it offers free 30-minute grocery deliveries to a 3-kilometer radius.

How Does It Work?

alibaba infuses new retail with hema

In order to shop at Hema, you have to download the app, which logs all of your purchases, saves your preferences and delivery address, and allows you to pay with Alipay, Alibaba’s mobile payments provider. After shopping at Hema, you’ll have a personalized product page based on your preferences and purchases.

Unique Selling Point Of This Store

alibaba introduces new retail with hema

Freshness is a big deal in the Chinese culture. The two words for freshness in Mandarin, namely one for ‘crisp’ fruits and vegetables that is ‘新鲜’ and another for freshly butchered meat and fish that is  ‘鲜嫩’. That’s how particular the Chinese are about their groceries and Hema has managed to blur this line with convenience.

The most important attraction of the Hema store is its expansive live seafood section that is equal to a traditional outdoor supermarket and the best part? Customers can select their produce and also get it cooked on the spot to for customers to consume it. The in-dining option certainly reinforces a customer’s faith in quality produce.

In-Dining Section

alibaba hema

In addition to its traditional grocery items, Hema has an expansive prepared foods section. It’s a little like a high-end food court, with enough space to seat 100 people. Because Hema stores are usually near office buildings, it’s a very popular lunch spot.

Customized Robot shopping

Thanks to Alibaba’s deep trove of data on consumers — the company had nearly 500 million active consumers on its platforms in 2017 — as well as the data collected by the Hema app, each Hema store is able to tailor its stock based on the spending habits of those who frequent the shop.

Product Information

alibaba hema

All items in the store have a barcode that can be scanned in the app to provide information about a product’s origin, the company behind the product, cooking instructions, nutritional information, and pricing. Customers can even add a product to an online order to be delivered at another time

Fast Delivery?

alibaba hema

The Key to changing consumers’ mindsets around online purchasing is Hema’s ultrafast delivery, which promises grocery deliveries in under 30 minutes for those living within 3 kilometers. Some stores offer 24-hour 30-minute delivery.

What is the aim of this store?

The supermarket offers around 3,000 different products in each store, while the Hema app has over 50,000 items. Prices are synchronized between online and offline via electronic shelf labels. The goal of the store, according to founder Hou Yi, is “to drive offline customers to shop online.” 85% of sales in China still happen offline.


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