Close look at China's high-tech retail scene

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann visiting one of Alibaba's Hema supermarkets in downtown Shanghai on Monday. Shoppers in Hema stores cannot pay cash but must use Alipay, Alibaba's mobile payment app.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann visiting one of Alibaba's Hema supermarkets in downtown Shanghai on Monday. Shoppers in Hema stores cannot pay cash but must use Alipay, Alibaba's mobile payment app.PHOTO: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

Sim Ann leading business group on visit to see how tech is changing sector

A Singapore business delegation is visiting cities in the Yangtze River Delta this week to experience first-hand how Chinese retailers are using technology to transform the industry. The retail mission is led by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann.

Ms Sim, who is also Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, visited a Hema supermarket run by e-commerce giant Alibaba in downtown Shanghai on Monday.

Hema is a chain of stores where consumers can buy groceries and have a meal. Alternatively, they can order groceries - to be delivered in 30 minutes - from the comfort of their homes if they live within a 3km radius of a store.

Shoppers in the stores cannot pay cash but must use Alipay, Alibaba's mobile payment app.

Ms Sim yesterday visited Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the Seattle-based coffee chain's biggest store in the world, and Raffles City Changning in Shanghai.

Raffles City Changning, part of the CapitaLand mall network, is the newest of its Raffles City-branded developments.

INSIGHTFUL TRIP

This trip takes our companies right into the frontier of innovative and high-tech retail concepts in China. I hope that seeing these concepts in action will inspire our Singaporean retailers to try new technologies, and make full use of the strategies set out in the Retail Industry Transformation Map to take their businesses to the next level.

SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY SIM ANN

Ms Sim also went to Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang, to visit Ruyicang, an integrated smart warehousing and logistics services platform run by Forchn Group. She saw how retailers use technology to settle payments through mobile platforms as well as handle e-commerce logistics and warehousing.

There was also a visit to Alibaba's headquarters, also known as its Xixi Campus.

Ms Sim will call on Zhejiang Governor Yuan Jiajun during her five-day visit to reaffirm longstanding and warm relations between Singapore and the province.

She will then co-chair the 13th Singapore-Zhejiang Economic and Trade Council meeting in Zhoushan city tomorrow.

"This trip takes our companies right into the frontier of innovative and high-tech retail concepts in China," said Ms Sim in a statement released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

"I hope that seeing these concepts in action will inspire our Singaporean retailers to try new technologies, and make full use of the strategies set out in the Retail Industry Transformation Map to take their businesses to the next level."

The business delegation was organised by Enterprise Singapore and comprises representatives from 13 companies in the retail industry.

"I'm amazed at the speed and ability for mass adoption of technologies like mobile payment by consumers here," said Ms Hana Lee, executive director of Commonwealth Retail Concepts, a Singapore company in the retail food business.

Ms Sim is being accompanied by officials from the MTI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enterprise Singapore and National Youth Council.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Close look at China's high-tech retail scene'. Print Edition | Subscribe