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A customer scanning a product or more info

‘New Retail’: The Alibaba supermarket blending online and brick-and-mortar

Over the last couple of years, AliBaba have been building supermarkets under the brand name Hema. The company, which is one of the largest online businesses  in the world, is aiming to have 35 stores in Beijing by the end of the year, on top of the five that are currently in operation.

The Hema supermarkets aim to take the best parts of online shopping and bring those efficiencies and features to the ground.

The entire shopping experience is built around interaction with a mobile app. Customers browse the real life offerings, amongst them ultra fresh seafood, scan them using the app, and pay via the app as well. Customers can also pay via facial recognition.

Scanning an item brings up further details on the product, as well as similar recommended items. Customers buying fresh food can also opt to have their meals cooked for them on the spot.

Online shoppers have the option to place an order and have it delivered. Employees collect the items on the shopper’s behalf and place them in a special hooked shopping bag. The shopping bag is then placed on a mechanical lift system, and delivered to the shopper’s home within 30 minutes if they’re in a 3km radius.

A customer scanning a product or more info
A customer scanning a product or more info
The app brings up more detailed information on products scanned in-store
The app brings up more detailed information on products scanned in-store
Employees can fulfil online orders by picking and packing them in reusable bags
Employees can fulfil online orders by picking and packing them in reusable bags
Customers check out using the mobile app, or via facial recognition kiosk tied to Taobao or Alipay
Customers check out using the mobile app, or via facial recognition kiosk tied to Taobao or Alipay
Customers check out using the mobile app, or via facial recognition kiosk tied to Taobao or Alipay
Customers check out using the mobile app, or via facial recognition kiosk tied to Taobao or Alipay

Recently, Alibaba offered Australia a sneak peak at what a similar undertaking might look like here, opening two apartment-style popup shops in Sydney at Westfield Chatswood and Melbourne’s QV. The stores featured “augmented reality, AI mirrors and virtual, cloud-enabled shelf technologies”.