Internet giants Alibaba, Tencent and JD are redefining and transforming retail in China using data and technology. In this module, you’ll learn about Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’, JD’s ‘Unbounded Retail’, Tencent’s ‘Smart Retail’ as well as other unmissable retail trends. You’ll learn about what’s happening in modern Chinese retail and how it’s leading the ‘New Retail’ revolution.
1. NEW RETAIL, SMART RETAIL AND UNBOUNDED RETAIL OVERVIEW
‘New Retail,’ a term coined by Alibaba, means the integration of offline, online, logistics and data science across a single value chain that is customer-centric and emphasizes convenience and value. It’s syncs online and offline seamlessly and links e-commerce sales with social media, online games and entertainment. As a result of this strategy implementation, Alibaba generated more than US$ 25.3 billion of GMV (gross merchandise volume) in one day during November’s Double 11 Global Shopping Festival in 2017.
Tencent, the tech and social media giant, has also been active in the new retail battle. Leveraging its cloud computing, big data and AI technology, Tencent’s ‘Smart Retail’ strategy aims to offer an ecosystem solution to retailers and improve user experiences with technological capabilities. It’s part of its ‘Smart+’ strategy, announced in 2017 with its cloud platform establishing an ecosystem covering retail, finance, logistics, marketing and communication in a decentralized way.
A partner of Tencent and the second largest e-commerce platform in China, JD.com has its own concept called ‘Unbounded Retail’ which is similar to new retail. With unbounded consumers, unbounded scenarios, unbounded supply chains and unbounded marketing, it unifies consumer insights and experiences and merges e-commerce with social networks. This contributes to more precise and effective ways to connect brands with target audiences.
2. 3 RETAIL TRENDS YOU CAN’T MISS
First, consider retail as entertainment. Shopping is no longer about adding items to shopping carts; instead, it’s a social activity and a form of entertainment. Imagine you’re watching a fashion show streamed on an e-commerce platform and are interested in the newest clothes on the runway. You shake your phone and ‘try on’ the outfits in virtual fitting rooms. If it looks good, you pay for it. Buy what you see at any time. These elements are a big part of the sales campaigns for the Double 11 Shopping Festival.
Unified channels are the second largest growing trend. Companies today have both online and offline advertising campaigns and marketing channels. They’re starting to merge those channels to increase accessibility to the customer in a seamless manner.
Last but not least is retail gamification. Young people like games and are motivated by discounts and coupons. It helps to enhance the engagement between brands and customers and to gain insights from new and returning customers. One example of successful gamification is Tmall’s AR (augmented reality) game that helped push customers from mobile devices to offline stores.
3. THE FUTURE OF RETAIL IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN CHINA
An example of the effective incorporation of these trends is pop-up stores with advanced technologies that increase brand awareness in various industries, such as furniture, makeup, supermarkets and fashion. Advanced technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and RFID (radio-frequency identification) are used to personalize experiences and make shopping more convenient, which always motivates people to stay in stores longer and creates social media buzz.
Alibaba’s LST (零售通/’integrated retail’) is another revolution which differentiates advances in China from the kinds of things happening in the US at Amazon’s physical stores, for example. It aims to help small local stores digitize quickly so they can assess the demographics and purchasing behaviour of their customers and determine the most in-demand products.
China is leading the way in terms of merging social media and retail. In some cases, it’s become almost impossible to distinguish between online retail and social media. Highly influenced by KOLs, Chinese consumers rely on social media platforms to discover and review products. Social media is infused in the whole process from brand discovery to feedback and customer care.
Technology is helping to build a new reality in China and the world. The process began some time ago and has kicked into high gear in the last two years and it’s already transformed retail experiences in China.
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