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SSG.com, the ecommerce unit of South Korea’s retail conglomerate, Shinsegae, launches early morning delivery service in June.

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Walmart China has launched a blockchain platform that will enable the retailer to track food throughout its supply chain.

Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform

The new Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform (WCBTP) has been created thanks to a partnership between Walmart China, VeChain (a blockchain technology company), PricewaterhouseCoopers in addition to other companies. The initiative is the latest in a string of blockchain related projects that have been implemented by the US retailer in the last few years.

23 product lines, before adding another 100 lines

Walmart China will be able initially to track 23 product lines through the new platform, before adding up another 100 lines by the end of the year, covering more than 10 product categories including fresh meat, rice, mushrooms, cooking oil and more.

As per the press release, the retailer expects, by the end of next year, to bring the share of fresh meat that’s being tracked in its platform to 50 percent of its total sales in that category. Similarly, it aims to bring the share of blockchain-tracked products to 40 percent of total vegetable sales and 12.5 percent of seafood sales.

Customers of Walmart China are able to access detailed product information by scanning the products using their smartphones. The type of information displayed ranges from the source and geographic location of the product, the route it took and the inspections it underwent from source to shelve.

The move comes in a context where China has been hit by several food safety scandals in recent years. Keeping this in mind, Walmart’s platform has the ability to enhance the transparency of its supply chain and increase the confidence of its customers. In addition, it’s not Walmart first foray into blockchain technology as it has been already experimenting the technology in the last few years, even outside the food domain.

Please visit our Transformed by technology hub and Walmart hub for more related news.

JD.com and Alibaba reported record breaking results for the 18-day campaign, with sales value up by +26%YoY.

The festival has evolved to be a major midyear ecommerce event

6.18 shopping festival, created by JD.com, now joined by Alibaba, has become a midyear event that can match the scale of the 11.11 global shopping festival.

The total sales transaction reached a new high this year of US$29.2bn, up by +26%YoY.  Around 200,000 brands took part and more than 110 brands each generated sales in excess of CYN100mn (US$14.5mn).

There are four key learnings from this year’s event, which are summarised below.

Less developed regions becoming the new growth engine

There has been a steadily rising demand from consumers in lower tier cities for quality products. With an increase in discretionary income, consumers in less developed areas are quickly becoming a main consumption engine and really drove this year’s 6.18 festival:

  • Volume growth was twice as high in lower tier cities than the overall growth on JD.com
  • Percentage of new users from lower tier cities was also much higher than the percentage of new users overall
  • 48% of the products newly launched on Tmall during the event were purchased by customers in less developed areas

Innovative approaches to widen reach and build engagement

This year’s event saw an array of innovative ways to reach customers and build engagement. The highlights are:

  • Social media played a key role: Two marketing campaigns had more than 100 million participants, all involving sharing on social platforms
  • Livestream to promote brands: Taobao’s livestreaming was an effective and important channel to reach shoppers. With hosts making recommendations for “must-buy” products, Taobao livestreaming helped generate more than CYN13bn sales. The number of livestreaming sessions hosted by brands increased by more than 120% vs. last year
  • Direct manufacturer-to-consumer model: Taobao’s Daily Deals, a channel which allows consumers to ordered customized products straight from the manufacturers, generated over 420 million orders

Group buying was a major push

Alibaba’s group buying platform Juhuasuan drew 300 million new customers. The platform has been repositioned recently for those looking for quality goods at competitive prices. Group buying via WeChat was also available in Hong Kong during this year’s event.

Technology used to meet customer expectations

Technology played a key role during the event to improve customer experience and exceed their expectations. JD.com’s smart customer service robot dealt with more than 32 million inquires, freeing up human services for more complicated inquires. 91% of orders from JD.com’s fulfilment centres were delivered on the same day or next day.

 

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High profile CFO Maggie Wu takes on new role in strategic investments.

An organisational upgrade

Wu will take over from Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai and oversee the firm’s strategic acquisition and investments unit, as part of a business and management reshuffle at the ecommerce giant. Joe Tsai will support Wu in her expanded role.

To guarantee innovation, invest in our future, Alibaba is undertaking an organisational upgrade,” the company said in the statement, signed by Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, who will become chairman when Jack Ma retires on the 10th September 2019.

Maggie Wu has been Alibaba’s CFO since 2013 and was listed as one of Forbes’ 50 Asia Power Businesswomen in 2015.

The change comes as Alibaba invests in new business lines

The announcement marks the first significant reshuffle since the company’s co-founder Jack Ma last year announced he would step down.

Alibaba has been investing in new business lines such as cloud computing as a boom in its core ecommerce has peaked and revenue growth slows. Expanding Wu’s remit is aimed at more tightly integrating Alibaba’s investments into its overall ecosystem.

In the same statement, Alibaba also announced that its supermarket division Freshippo, also known as Hema in China and now has 160 stores, will become a standalone business, and enterprise software unit DingTalk will be merged into the firm’s cloud unit.

These changes come ahead of a planned IPO in Hong Kong later this year which could raise as much as US$20 billion in fresh capital for expansion via investment. 

 

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Rakuten and Seiyu will deliver products from the Seiyu LIVIN Yokosuka Store in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, to visitors in Sarushima via drones.

Drone service to launch on 4 July 2019

Starting on 4 July 2019, the new initiative will service Sarushima, a popular sightseeing destination and the only uninhabited island in Tokyo Bay. It will run for around three months, and Rakuten Drones will ground at a landing port built on Sarushima. To use the service, visitors will need to download the Rakuten Drone app onto their smartphone and place orders through the app. 

A range of approx. 400 products will be available to order, including fresh produce for barbecues, beverages and first-aid products. This will be supplied by the Seiyu LIVIN Yokosuka Store located on the shore opposite the island.

Our view

The service, once in operation, will also provide invaluable knowledge on the capabilities of drone deliveries for disaster relief, how to support people with limited access to shopping in certain areas of Yokosuka and whether it can be rolled out to other regions. This is not the first time Rakuten has turned to drones for delivery solutions in Japan. It has been offering the service since 2016, and signed an agreement with JD.com to strengthen last-mile delivery earlier this year.

Accelerating innovation to drive convenience

Rakuten’s ??Managing Executive Officer, Koji Ando, said, “We are very happy to expand our collaboration with Seiyu on Rakuten Ichiba and Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper to include the field of drone logistics […] with this service, we aim to offer customers an innovative, advanced shopping experience in which products they order will be delivered by drone. Based on this initiative, we will accelerate innovation so that more people can experience the convenience of drone delivery."

Strengthening existing partnership

Seiyu’s Executive Senior Vice President of EC Division, Tamae Takeda, said, "Seiyu has also been looking into drone deliveries for our online supermarket, and we are very excited to work with Rakuten in this field. In the future, through Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, which we jointly operate with Rakuten, we want to contribute to enriching the lives of more customers by delivering high-quality products at low prices to everyone, including those who have difficulty shopping at stores."

 

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