New kind of superstore: Robots, apps and overhead conveyor belts
Customers use mobile app, using it to scan barcodes throughout the store to find out things such as product information and recipe ideas. New retail operator knows everything a customer has purchased, so it offers users the option in the future to quickly order the same goods to be delivered to their home.
The stores double as distribution centers, where assigned employees roam around filling bags with online orders, then place them on a conveyor belt to the delivery center.
Typically, customers within a three-kilometer radius can receive their groceries within 30 minutes.
Getting customers offline to become comfortable ordering online could be a key pillar to Alibaba’s strategy.
Customers pay through their accounts on Taobao or Alipay, the online payment platform from Alibaba-affiliated Ant Financial. At select Hema stores, customers can even pay by scanning their faces at kiosks.
Connected to a Hema store in Shanghai, Alibaba recently introduced its new, Robot.He restaurant. Inside, customers use their phone to scan a QR code at their table and begin ordering from the menu – all using the Hema app. From there, most dishes, save for large soups requiring a human server, are delivered to tables by robotic devices.
The high-tech stores appear poised for all manner of innovation.