Meanwhile, French senators have just voted for a per kilometer taxation of e-commerce players who do home deliveries. In the East, in China, a country so much bigger and more populated, Alibaba and Hema continue to grow in their ability to deliver everything everywhere, faster than their competitors. Why this crazy race for the best delivery services and how can it be adapted to fresh products?
Some feedback about the East:
The traditional Chinese market, which is much like the one frequented in Europe, but bigger, presents an impressive variety of products—from fruits and vegetables to live fish, not to mention insects or other molluscs. However, Chinese consumers are very concerned about the freshness of the products they consume. If they go to the store, it is to find food via their senses and to prevent any attempt at deception regarding the food. They can then go home without a fuss and place their order online. Nearly 50% of fresh products are ordered via the internet. Alibaba, which has joined Hema in this marketplace, has also bought, for nearly 8 billion euros, the app Ele.me (which means “you’re hungry” in Mandarin) to complete the customer journey.
Ele.me employs a staggering army of 3 million scooter delivery people with refrigerated boxes who crisscross the Chinese settlements relentlessly. In total, 343 million Internet users have placed an order for ready-made meals in China in 2017. Will the fish just out of the tank arrive home in 30 minutes? This is the huge challenge faced by these giants with a demanding clientele. “As one of the most frequently used apps in China, food delivery is an important entry point in the local service sector,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in an interview with Les Echos in the spring.
Hema has developed its own app to process orders and their success is making its presence felt. With more than 1,000 orders per day per supermarket (with surface areas of about 5,000 m2) and delivery times of between 15 and 30 minutes if the customer lives within a 5 km radius of the store, they offer 24 hour services. The performance is remarkable and could inspire Westerners. There are about thirty such stores in China currently and Hema is planning for a hundred of them by the end of 2018.
The experience is also identical online as it is in the physical world. It is a tour de force that requires a massive investment in the latest technologies like cashless payment via Alipay, but also a high-performing management of the personal data of customers. Better yet, the facial recognition related to the wallet via the app allows us to know everything about each customer, from their age to their taste preferences while passing through their state of health.
Jack Ma, the media founder of Alibaba, wants to demonstrate with this strong partnership linking e-commerce to supermarkets in cities that the complementarity of the options is a reality in the daily life of the Chinese and that he is in no way intending to end in-store shopping. Power and agility are combined much to the satisfaction of consumers.