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  • I'm in Shanghai visiting Alibaba's new retail concept store. The name? Hema.

  • Not only is the tech titan expanding into offline retail,

  • but this location is the first with its own robot restaurant too.

  • Robots are actually delivering, pretty much, all the food.

  • That's where I'll end up at after the shopping experience.

  • The Hema store is growing rapidly in China, opening 65 locations in one year.

  • There's three pillars to its strategy: serving as a place to shop in person,

  • a distribution center for online orders and the restaurant.

  • It's hoping to define what the future of retail will look like.

  • While I'm checking this out, I might as well grab a basket.

  • Let's see what interests me.

  • The first thing I notice is the pricing system. Every price tag has a barcode, in which you can use the Hema app

  • to scan the barcode and see the price of the item online. You can also see reviews of that product.

  • What's also fascinating is that even though these price tags look like they were printouts,

  • it's a special technology that can change the price in real-time.

  • And that's not all.

  • It even tells you when it was delivered to the store and where it came from.

  • You can even see a scan of a government certificate proving, for instance, if it was organic.

  • It also shows delivery options if you decide not to buy it in store.

  • I just saw a lady who works for the store and she was fulfilling an online order.

  • So using her scanner, she had a bag, she would pick the products.

  • And then what was really crazy, is instead of walking across the store to get it where it needs to go,

  • she put it on a conveyer belt, which then took it to the ceiling, to the back area, where it will go out for delivery.

  • So essentially now you're talking about not only a retail store, but also a distribution center.

  • And if you live within three kilometers of a Hema store,

  • you can have delivery of your groceries within 30 minutes.

  • You see a lot of employees walking around the store, fulfilling orders.

  • I understand how it can maximize efficiency of sourcing,

  • but it creates a somewhat chaotic experience too, when you have a lot of people running around.

  • A lot of sample stations throughout the store.

  • It's like a Costco. Sample stations everywhere.

  • At one point you ask yourself: why even come to the store, then?

  • If everything is online and it's such an easy experience to just order from an app.

  • Well, one reason Chinese consumers prefer to come in store is for seafood.

  • It's very important for the Chinese consumer to see firsthand their seafood, to make sure it's fresh.

  • Alright, so I picked two items that I'm going to check out with.

  • One of them is bananas, and the other one is these Lays potato chips, Italian red meat flavor.

  • Why not try something new?

  • There's literally no traditional cashier at this grocery store.

  • It's not like you have an option between a cashier and self-checkout.

  • So if you're looking for that human interaction, go somewhere else.

  • Using the Hema app, which is connected to Alipay,

  • consumers swipe their phone in front of this scanner, and that's pretty much it.

  • There's also the option to pay using your face, too.

  • And now, let me try those chips.

  • It's actually a very subtle taste. It's not too strong, surprisingly.

  • Now, it's time to try the robot restaurant.

  • To get a table here, you can check in at a kiosk, you guessed it, using the app.

  • It's connected to your identity, your name, everything you've bought in the past, and of course, your wallet.

  • From there, you get assigned a table. Once you're assigned a table, you scan the barcode at the table.

  • And then from there, you can just start placing your order on the Hema app.

  • So you're not waiting for anyone to come take your order. There's no pen or paper, any of that.

  • In fact, you really have no interaction with a staff member.

  • And then from there, the robots deliver your food.

  • And you've already paid, all within the same app.

  • Alibaba leveraged its existing technology from the e-commerce automated warehouses

  • to power these new robot restaurants.

  • It's really an entire ecosystem of robots that are working together pretty well. I have yet to see a collision.

  • Even the tablet at the table, in a way, is obsolete.

  • The only thing the tablet can really do is entertain you. There's games, which your phone probably has.

  • You can call for a server if you need, you can use the tablet for that.

  • And then there's also a demo of how the robots work as well.

  • The robots can't handle everything though.

  • For complicated dishes, like soups, that'll require a human server.

I'm in Shanghai visiting Alibaba's new retail concept store. The name? Hema.

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アリババのヘマ食料品店が小売を変える|CNBCレポート (Alibaba's Hema grocery stores are changing retail | CNBC Reports)

  • 379 17
    April Lu に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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