Three Chinese Retail Trends to Watch

What’s happening in Chinese retail could find its way to the United States.

November 21, 2018

BEIJING – With the world’s largest population, China often is far ahead of the United States in terms of retail innovation. Stores predicts that three current trends in Chinese retailers will have an impact on American stores soon.

T.J. Rau, global head of business development at Coresight Research, notes that during Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on Singles’ Day last November, it used AI and big data analytics to create 6.7 billion personalized shopping pages, with individualized product recommendations, on the Taobao and Tmall platforms.

Online to offline. What would a store look like that melded its online and offline shopping experiences? The possibility that a home furnishings retailer would be nimbly enough to completely switch out its products every fortnight based on local consumer behavior. Home Times readjusts its more than 20,000 items based on their online popularity.

Who’s minding the store? China’s growth of cashier-less stores has exploded, with some companies planning to open 100,000 stores within the next few years, although many of those companies are still testing the technology. Signpost recently announced its pilot of a train station kiosk utilizing that technology. As of the summer, more than 1,100 stores have opened in China, including BingoBox, EasyGo, FxBox and Xiaomai.

Big and little. Large retailers are eyeing smaller, independent stores as one way to connect with customers. Ecommerce giants like JD.com and Alibaba are partnering with mom-and-pop stores in a new franchise type model. “They are consolidating independent stores onto their platforms,” said Doug Koontz, research director at PlanetRetail RNG. “Alibaba and JD.com are able to learn a lot about the customers that are in those stores, and they’re often providing them with brands and products to sell. In return, these mom-and-pop stores are getting the support, often tech, branding, marketing investment, that they couldn’t manage on their own.”

Retailers can see firsthand these Chinese innovations at the NACS Convenience Summit Asia, scheduled for March 5-7, 2019, in Shanghai, China.

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