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e-Commerce reinvents brick-and-mortar in China

A robot restaurant in Shanghai delivers dishes via robot pods on a high-tech track that quickly guides them to their destination. Located inside a rapidly-growing Chinese grocery store chain called Hema (that’s “hippo” in Mandarin), almost everything is done digitally.

Owned by Alibaba, one of the largest e-commerce companies on the planet, its chairman, Jack Ma, is now trying to reinvent brick-and-mortar retail by fully merging it with e-commerce, and designing physical stores around smartphones. He calls it “new retail”. He also owns Alipay, the most-used digital payment service in China.

The entire experience at these stores is based around their app. One can scan every single product that they have on the shelves for all sorts of information. For instance, by scanning a head of lettuce, customers can find out which day it was delivered to the store, at what temperature, and on which truck. They even give customers recipes for what they can make with it.

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