Instant retail brings brick-and-mortar stores back to the retail game

A JD Daojia employee rides a scooter in Shenyang, Liaoning province in April. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

SHENZHEN — Food for pet turtles, adapters for overseas travel and hand-held paint sprayers were generally hard to find at local grocery stores, but Peng Texiang, who has a store in Guangdong province, southern China, said it is now regularly restocking shelves with these products as more customers turn to nearby stores to shop.

“To some extent, COVID-19 has changed people’s shopping habits,” Peng said, adding that her customers are mainly those who live within 10 kilometers of her store and their orders can be delivered in person. one o’clock.

Physical stores are making a comeback in Chinese cities under the impact of the epidemic, as they innovated with new products, services and business models to embrace the instant retail trend.

Relying on mobile apps such as Ele.me and Meituan, Peng’s store started doing instant retail in 2015 and since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, Peng has seen an increase in shopping. offline and online orders.

Nearly 1,000 orders are placed every day, and the variety of products sold in the store has expanded by dozens, according to Peng.

Over the past decade, China’s e-commerce has grown tremendously, with a highly efficient delivery system that employs a large number of couriers.

By leveraging their physical location and internet usage, offline stores are able to offer customers delivery within an hour or even 30 minutes, meeting the changing demand of consumers who prefer to buy when they need it rather than buying in bulk.

According to a report by global management and consulting giant Accenture, more than half of customers born after 1995 expect their online orders to arrive within a day, and 7% expect to receive the products within two hours of placing an order online.

Experts believe instant retail is thriving in part because people are traveling less to prevent and control the outbreak.

Xing Linbo, dean of evaluation studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said instant retailing has not only made shopping easy and convenient for customers, but also boosted small and medium-sized enterprises, gradually becoming a new driving force in the Chinese consumer market.

Instant retail volume is expected to surpass 1 trillion yuan ($145.1 billion) by 2025, according to research center iResearch.

However, instant retail requires heavy investment in human resources, technical support and marketing. Only by developing profitable models can its overall market size grow steadily, said Lai Youwei, director of the Meituan Research Institute.

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