JD, Alibaba Introduce Tech-Driven Supermarkets To Chinese Consumers

Following in the footsteps of chief rival Alibaba, Chinese e-Commerce giant JD has opened its first supermarket, a 4,000-square-meter location in Beijing. The 7FRESH grocery chain will be stocked with thousands of fresh products, including fruit, flowers, imported meat and freshly-caught seafood, prepared and cooked on-site. JD may open more than 1,000 7FRESH stores in the next three to five years, according to China Daily.

7FRESH is JD’s largest brick-and-mortar endeavor yet. The launch coincides with Alibaba’s decision to expand its fleet of Hema supermarkets by opening 30 stores in Beijing in 2018.

While JD maintains full control of its supply chain and sources its own inventory, Alibaba primarily acts as a platform for other merchants. But these moves into grocery widen the reach of both brands.

JD And Alibaba Leverage Both Online And Offline Data

Both retailers are combining e-Commerce and traditional technologies to better manage inventory and customer data, and are leveraging this data to improve their online experiences — particularly by shortening delivery times.


JD is using data from 266.3 million e-Commerce consumers to craft the 7FRESH shopping experience. The supermarket integrates several technology elements designed to deliver a “personal and educational” hands-on shopping experience. For example, 7FRESH is testing “magic mirrors” that sense when customers pick up an item of produce, and automatically provide product information such as nutritional facts. The stores also will soon feature smart shopping carts that can follow customers as they browse the aisles, allowing them to shop with children, hands-free.

Shoppers using the self-checkout option can even pay using a facial recognition system connected to the 7FRESH mobile app. Customers in the neighborhood can either carry their goods home themselves or have them delivered in 30 minutes. 

Like the Hema stores, 7FRESH also offers a restaurant and imported fresh food cooked on-site.The average daily store traffic during test operations from Dec. 29 to Jan 3 was 10,000 people, according to a company spokesperson.

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