For people living in the United States, it was a shock to hear that Amazon was buying Whole Foods.  We’re starting to get a sense of what this collaboration will look like with Amazon lowering prices on items within the store, and exploring how to use Whole Food’s logistics network to supplement Amazon Prime.  What will this relationship look like in the future?  The first place to look is Jack Ma’s Alibaba in China.  Declan Ee, in Enterprise Innovation, describes Ma’s New Retail concept:

To stay relevant in the rapidly evolving landscape of e-commerce, ‘New Retail’ entails an integration that seamlessly connects online presence, offline retail experience and logistics network along a single value chain. This complements the emerging strategic need to gather necessary data to create a strong retail experience for the increasingly discerning consumers of our time.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t just mean that an e-store sets up a physical location. Data is employed to provide a more focused customer-experience focused engagement.  Alibaba has been working to develop this concept for two years in it’s Hema grocery store.  Bloomberg describes the concept further:

It rolled out three new locations last month, bringing the total to 13, the bulk in Shanghai and Beijing. The sprawling, bright supermarkets combine online and offline shopping, where customers who have downloaded Hema’s app scan barcodes on products and pay with their Alipay digital wallet.

The live seafood section is one of the main attractions for Chinese consumers who prize fresh fish and often insist on choosing it themselves. Shoppers at Hema can pick out their own crab or lobster and have it cooked on the spot to eat in the store, or get it delivered to their home. The stores also double as warehouses for delivery in 30 minutes within a close radius.

The fundamental retail experience is changing and how we experience shopping is becoming heavily dependent on our preferences.  Mobile is the key.

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