Retail Tech has only just hatched in China, however the industry already seems set to change the face of online shopping. Whilst Retail Tech is not as developed as China’s surging FinTech industry, several Chinese start-ups are leading the world in several areas. Here are 5 ways that Chinese Start-ups are revolutionizing online shopping:
1- Virtual Reality Shopping Experience On Your Doorstep
VR is the hottest topic in retail tech right now however few start-ups have created a marketable product that can be used on a day-to-day basis by merchants and customers.
The Alibaba Group has taken a large step towards the possibility of VR shopping with the release of its “Buy+” VR retail platform. Although the platform is still in its beta stage, Alibaba intends to tear up traditional retailing systems by allowing customers to shop in a 360 degrees panoramic shopping experience.
By wearing VR ocular mask customers can browse any product, call virtual models to trial items, and wear accessories. Developed by Alibaba’s high-tech VR/AR unit “Gnome Magic Lab”, Buy+ is a shopping centre killer as Alibaba hopes that in future VR will allow shoppers to shop in the comfort of their own home.
The Alibaba Group is also looking to monopolise the VR shopping experience by merging Buy+ with Taobao so that brands and merchants can sell products to customers with the Buy+ platform using a 3D inventory.
2- Smart Storage Options and Faster Delivery System
Based on Beijing, grocery retail start-up Dmall wanted to quicken the pace of grocery delivery in congested Chinese cities. It did away with the traditional inventory of warehouses that online retailers often utilise and instead got friendly with local supermarkets in order to make the supermarket inventory their own. As a result, Dmall’s rides off the back of local supermarkets and provides an almost unlimited inventory of products to offer to customers with the added advantage of being conveniently sourced from local supermarket retailers.
In a similar vein, grocery retail start-up Beequick partners with a network of thousands of husband-and-wife corner grocery stores in any given Chinese city to deliver fresh groceries to costumers. This not only means that produce is delivered fresher but ensures that last mile delivery is more efficient. The start-up does away with traditional online retailer warehouses and saves resources in logistics whilst their localized delivery also makes sure that customers don’t get too hungry.
3- Socially-Networked Product Experiences
Although it may seem like a copycat of platforms such as Groupon and other coupon services, Chinese startup Giftpass is developing a gift-coupon platform that integrates into WeChat to create a unique social-network based retailing experience.
Based as a service account inside WeChat, start-up Giftpass allows users to gift a wide range of products and services to any of their friends on WeChat. Giftpass makes retailing and sharing a product experience to become as easy as sharing a QR code that the gift receiver can redeem offline. This not only heightens offline retail consumption but also increases the convenience of purchasing and gifting items by utilizing social-networking networks that Chinese consumers are familiar with. Now your aunt can start sending you gifts on your birthday instead of annoying stickers!
4- D&A and Personalised Marketing is Gaining Speed
D&A (data and analytics) have been touted as the next big thing in personalized marketing and Chinese start-ups and retailers are jumping on the D&A wagon to accelerate their product sales and personalised marketing systems.
An example of this boost in product sales due to D&A is Alibaba who during this years’ Double 11 shopping day, claimed that it’s D&A and machine-learning software helped it increase it’s GMV (gross merchandising volume) by 10%.
Using predictive algorithms and purchase data analytics, Alibaba’s D&A software has helped the customer shopping experience become more authentic and useful. From the colour, to the product to the size, style, and parameters, Alibaba’s algorithms analyse millions of listed products and match it with a customer’s buying and browsing patterns. Using AI machine-learning Alibaba can use a customer’s shopping history data to personalise product searches and recommendations for customers: it’s like if Big Brother only helped you with buying new shoes.
Old-school baby and toddler product retailer Leyou has also dived into D&A to help it provide a holistic retail experience for mother’s with their Leyou APP. On the surface the app provides an e-commerce marketplace for mothers to shop baby products but underneath, the shopping data of customers is collected and analysed to a tee. Everything from the brand name, the product age range, the nutritional ingredients, are analysed so that the app can recommend mothers new and appropriate products at every developmental stage of their child. Through D&A Leyou provides a more convenient, trustworthy and meaningful retail experience for mothers and bubs.
5- Mobile Payments For All
Whilst mobile payment platforms such as Alipay are catered to the middle-class consumer, few mobile payment platforms connect make the retailing experience easier for the Average Joe who may not be able to afford the latest MacBook Pro. Enter start-up OmniPrime and their “Paymax” app.
OmniPrime - Paymax:
Paymax is a mobile payment platform that connects offline retailers to China’s blue-collar workers to get them more involved in online shopping. It offers small loans to low-income workers who want to have the latest iPhone but don’t have the funds. By providing commission to offline retailers for encouraging low-income consumers to use its service, the app provides offline retailers with greater cash flow and a higher volume of customers. More importantly, by lending money to China’s low-income earners so they can also rock the latest iPhone 7, Paymax opens them up to a whole new world of online shopping experiences.
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