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Hema

A new retail concept is delivering in China in under 30 minutes.

Since online retail catapulted into existence, customer service expectations have been raised across all forms of retail. Now with the proliferation of Hema’s dynamic fresh food offering, expectations are set to rise again.

Launched by e-comm giant, Alibaba, Hema is an ambitious new retailer in China. It’s a physical place to shop, a dine-in restaurant and a distribution centre for online orders, all rolled into one. It also offers 30-minute delivery within a 3km radius in major Chinese cities.

Watch the Hema video and see how a delivery can be made within 30 minutes in a country of 1.5 billion people.

"The Hema experience is certainly unique. Digital technology permeates every transaction and interaction."

“Hema has been developed in a way that no one has ever done before,” says Hema CEO, Mr Hou Yi. “Where other people saw problems, we saw opportunities. And because Alibaba is willing to adventure and to test, we are willing to invest in the future.”

The Hema experience is certainly unique. Digital technology permeates every transaction and interaction, and it all hinges around the Hema app. It’s how customers place an online order, check out and pay instore, access detailed product information, book a table at the robot-run restaurant and place an order.

When you’re in store, there is a constant buzz. Uniformed Hema staff rush around picking orders for online customers that then get pegged to a conveyor belt and shoot up into the ceiling ready for delivery. There are no cashiers, only kiosks. And you can have restaurant staff cook the food you’ve purchased and have a robot serve it to you on site.

Robot table service in Hema in-store restaurant

Online order being picked up in Hema store

Hema 30-minute home delivery

"You will see that Hema is constantly exploring new products and new scenarios. We will always pursue perfect and pursue better.”

Mr Hou Yi,
Hema

Of all the new experiences Hema offers, however, it’s the 30-minute delivery guarantee that’s gaining traction. Only for customers within a three kilometre store radius, it’s said to be impacting real estate prices giving ‘Hema Nearby Houses’ a soaring advantage.

Delivery in 30 minutes means commuters can shop for dinner on their way home and for others it means not having to even leave the house.

“Many families include elderly people who are buying food. It is not convenient to go up and down their buildings. It is also dangerous to encounter wind and rain,” explains Mr Hou.

Since Hema first started in 2016, it has opened more than 160 stores. Mr Hou hopes to expand its supply chain to include a wide variety of innovative product lines and bring in the very best of the world’s produce. To this end, Hema is working with agricultural partners from around the world to launch products such as fresh dairy products and premium beef to support the lives of millions of families.

Even with such great ambitions, Mr Hou remains humble. “There are many places that need to be perfected,” he says, “so we continue to rethink and iterate. You will see that Hema is constantly exploring new products and new scenarios. We will always pursue perfect and pursue better.”