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How Alibaba’s New Retail strategy is redesigning the customer journey

By Smita Sinha | June 05, 2019

In an exclusive interview with Retail4Growth, Ye Guohui, General Manager of Tmall New Retail Products Business Unit, tells us how New Retail empowered by Alibaba’s leading-edge technology, has changed the face of modern retail in China.

Ye GuohiChina’s homegrown online shopping giant Alibaba is changing the face of retail in China with one of its core strategies ‘New Retail’. Empowered by Alibaba’s leading-edge technology, New Retail aims to combine the best of both online and offline shopping experience. The Chinese retail giant is also driving a massive transformation of the traditional retail industry by digitizing the entire retail operation, with a focus on in-store technology, digitized inventory and supply chain systems, consumer insights and mobile payments. It is enabling retailers ready for the future using consumer insights generated on different platforms to develop informative and entertaining content for omni-channel delivery.

In an exclusive interview with Retail4Growth, Ye Guohui, General Manager of Tmall New Retail Products Business Unit, tells us how New Retail has changed the face of modern retail in China and how this concept is going to benefit Indian retailers.

Please elucidate on the concept of New Retail. Tell us about its inception and what does it necessitate?

‘New Retail’ is best described as the trend where boundaries between offline and online commerce disappear and focus is purely on improving customer experience and fulfilling the personalized needs of each customer. The concept is an intersection between the “consumer value proposition” and “merchant value proposition” which becomes intrinsic when online and offline commerce are properly integrated. For the consumer, it simply is a more seamless experience, which makes it easier to shop, as the brand works better to cater to their individual needs. On the other hand, for the merchant, it ensures everything is connected and consumer insights are observable which increases efficiency and productivity.

How has New Retail changed the face of modern retail in China? Can you elaborate with some examples?

New Retail is imperative when it comes to facilitating the growth of both online and offline commerce. A great example of this would be Freshippo (also known as Hema) supermarkets. Freshippo delivers a 3-in-1 experience to its consumers that encompasses technology-driven fulfillment for online delivery, seamless in-store purchase, and in-store consumption. The Freshippo experience starts with a download of the mobile app that links right up to a customer’s Taobao or Alipay account. Customers who don’t have accounts yet can easily sign up. And then the shopping begins, wherever the customer is. For consumers living within a 3km radius from the store, orders placed in the app are delivered within 30 minutes, thanks to the New Retail technologies deployed by Freshippo. Consumers who prefer an in-store experience can visit the supermarket to hand-select their fresh food, such as seafood, and eat it, after the store’s kitchen cooks it, of course, on the spot, in the store's dining area.

According to you, how can India benefit from New Retail?

Although it’s still at a nascent phase, India with its huge population and growing adoption of digital offers tremendous scope for digital transformation across various sectors. The idea is to create the right momentum in the ecosystem by bringing together payments, malls, brick and mortar retail, and delivery as well. When you put all these pieces together, it becomes easier for a consumer to have a seamless experience while engaging with an ecosystem. For example, today in India, for a shopper to pick up an item from the local market, he or she has to rely on the market having a delivery service which has to be integrated with the payment service and then depending on the stock availability, he or she gets the item. On the other hand, New Retail allows consumers to access all of these services on one platform at the same time. This is where India can benefit from New Retail. Embracing this concept is easier for millennia as their habits are engrained on the smartphone, a device on which the very concept of New Retail is based on.

Read the complete interview in Point-of-Purchase June 2019 Edition

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