24/07/17 13:47 BST
by Hot Pot Digital

Know China Now: Alibaba’s Taocafe, Nars in China and JD Using Drones

With more than 846 million daily active users, China boasts more smartphone users than the USA, Brazil and Indonesia combined, with an unprecedented rate of adoption and change in the digital sphere.

Each week Hot Pot Digital’s Know China Now blog keeps brand marketers informed on digital, social, mobile and ecommerce trends in the most exciting consumer market in the world.

Alibaba Develops Staffless Physical Store

What is it?

  • Alibaba has followed Amazon’s lead and showcased its first staffless store
  • The Tao Café uses AI for face recognition in order to identify shoppers and bill them – with Alipay no less – as they exit through a “checkout zone”
  • Alibaba assures customers that staffless stores would ensure lower priced products, fewer queue times and a more personalised service
  • Amazon pioneered the concept of a staffless store – Amazon Go – which was announced in December last year
  • Alibaba has been making its desire to move into offline retail space clear for some time, purchasing department store chain Intime in January

Nars Enters the China Market – At A Price

What is it?

  • French beauty brand Nars has announced its decision to move into the Chinese market, opening four physical stores and a WeChat e-commerce store
  • The Chinese market is already familiar with Nars, with 20,000 followers on Weibo and overseas purchases
  • The brand has received significant backlash as in order to import beauty products into China, products must be subjected to animal-testing
  • Other brands such as Bodyshop and Lush have resisted the Chinese market on ethical reasons
  • It remains to be seen whether animal-testing laws will become less stringent in China, or brands bend their ethical guidelines in order to gain access to China’s lucrative beauty market

JD Uses Drones for Rural E-commerce Success

What is it?

  • Online retailer JD.com wants to use drones to deliver products to remote countryside areas
  • JD estimates that using drones will cut delivery costs by 70% as well as significantly minimising delivery times
  • By the end of 2017, JD aims to have 100 drones to deliver to rural customers
  • China’s rural population living below the poverty line has fallen from 30% to 5.7% from 2005 to 2015
  • As this group’s disposable income increases, they are making up to 90% of their purchases on a mobile device
  • JD.com’s investment into its rural customers demonstrates the revenue potential that this group presents