What UK retailers can learn from China's retailers in the face of coronavirus

by Internet Retailing

This article was originally published on Internet Retailing.

The coronavirus is the most serious threat to China’s retailers since SARS in 2003

Malls are closed shut and the streets of Beijing and Shanghai are near empty as residents stay home.

And yet this time around brands have more digital tools than ever before to reach customers at home. We take a look at what brands and retailers are doing and how UK retail can learn from them.


Smart grocery store chains in China such as Alibaba’s Hema (recently renamed as Freshippo), Tencent’s Super Species, and JD.com’s 7Fresh have all seen abrupt increases in orders through their on-demand delivery services, which can be accessed through mini-apps on WeChat.

Super Species’ WeChat ordering app Source: Screenshot official WeChat mobile app

Super Species’ WeChat ordering app Source: Screenshot official WeChat mobile app

A spokesperson from Hema/Freshippo noted that it is prepping six times the amount of fresh vegetables for its 50 stores in Shanghai, equivalent to 330 tons of groceries. JD Daojia, JD.com’s on-demand delivery service platform which services the likes of Wal-Mart and JD’s own grocery stores, has also seen a fivefold increase in sales.

Here’s what a typical omnichannel grocery store chain is like: 

Cafeteria with healthy meal options

Each store has a cafeteria with imported foods such as sushi, Australian beef, and salads to appeal to Chinese millennials in Tier 1-2 cities looking for healthier meal options. Cheap 50 RMB (5.58 GBP) meals drive traffic, as customers may come in during lunch hours or after work for a quick bite. Read more on Internet Retailing.