Global giants upbeat about China's retail market
An Ikea furniture store in Shanghai on Aug 16, 2018 [Photo/IC]
The advanced technologies of big data and artificial intelligence are paving the way for China to revolutionize its retail business, with merchants hailing the dawn of New Retail.
New Retail, a faddish term coined in 2016 by Jack Ma, founder of China's tech giant Alibaba, refers to the integration, or interlinking, of online and offline shopping using modern technologies, data and customer engagement techniques.
In his words, New Retail is removing the differences between physical and virtual commerce.
Ikea, the world's leading furniture and lifestyle service provider, has decided to ride the wave. Earlier this month, the company announced the launch of a mixed-use project in the western corner of Shanghai, the largest investment it has made in its history.
The project will cover a total area of 430,000 square meters, with the total investment topping 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion). Expected to open by the end of 2022, the project will be operated under the brand Livat with a 120,000-square-meter retailing space, offering consumers choices from over 300 catering, entertainment, education and sports brands from home and abroad.
"The Swedish company's furniture store will naturally be included in the new project, but will be quite different to its predecessors," Ding Hui, president of Ikea Centers China, said. "It is a response to China's ever-changing consumer market and aims to take the company in new direction."
There will be less warehousing area and instead greater reliance on digital tools. The shopping area will take up less than 50 percent of the total space, and the rest will be devoted to other types of businesses, like zoos and small racetracks for horses.