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Will Intelligent Self-Service Stores Be the Next Big Thing in Retail?


The newly listed company of Fortune Global 500, Suning Commerce Group, owned by China’s retail giant, Suning Holdings Group, has recently completed its “8.18 Shopping Festival” – one of the most remarkable shopping sprees in China around the year, according to a release. This year Suning has upgraded its platform by adopting the idea of “Smart Retail” that integrates technologies including big data analysis, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as proposed by its chairman Zhang Jindong.

During the “8.18 Shopping Festival”, which saw online and offline sales surge by 263% and 107%, Suning’s intelligent system has helped collect the data, analyze it and better connect the brands with consumers. Zhang Jindong, chairman of Suning Holdings Group said, “As a leading retail company, we have always been devoted to making retail smarter not only to provide high-quality products, but also to better serve our consumers. This year, ‘Smart Retail’ has exerted its advantages in all aspects and brought great success to our shopping event.”

In terms of intelligent purchasing, “Smart Retail” boasts a new mode of consumer to business which is based on the analysis of big data to offer its global partners with forward-looking marketing insights. Thus, brands can accurately set the position and targets as well as the price. Suning has provided over 15,000 cooperation brands with its operation analysis services to help them track and adjust their sales strategies during the promotion period. In addition, its intelligent supply engine, which is based on data analysis, has operated 100 million times and supported 4000 stores to help allocate inventories at the most convenient locations for targeting consumers.

During the “8.18 Shopping Festival”, “Smart Retail” also advises that the high-demand international products are not limited to home appliances but also consumer electronics for males, skin care and beauty for females, health products, prenatal products and fresh imports etc.

In addition to its data gathering capabilities, the “Smart Retail” system improves consumers’ shopping experience by adding VR to its brick-and-mortar stores and AR to its promotion activities. Their intuitive design, coupled with Suning.com’s AI-powered chatbot, “Sunny”, helps to seamlessly facilitate over 1 million transactions during the Promotion, with AR-directed sales accounting for over US$160 million in sales.

While logistics is playing another important role at the sales event, Suning’s intelligent delivery service has also powered its brand partners to better serve its consumers by ensuring the shopping experiences especially for the fresh imports. By cooperating with the domestic fresh brand “Yiguo.com”, even in summer over 86 degree fahrenheit, it could deliver the orders to 180 cities the next day.

In general, the “Smart Retail” enables retailing more scenarized, intelligent and customized, which means anyone can purchase anything at anytime and anywhere. Zhang said, “This is the future of retailing, the consumption habits and trend on the internet leads the products and services we are offering. When we are building our platform smarter and more consumer-friendly, we hope to see more global brands coming to cooperate with us.”

The next big thing for Suning will be launching its first intelligent self-service store – Suning Biu in late August at Nanjing, China. This will be another important step made by the Group while marching its course in forging the “Smart Retail”.

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