By 2030, Alibaba wants to use its subsidiary Hema Fresh to open physical stores in all 200 Chinese cities with over a million inhabitants.
Alibaba has big plans for its innovative supermarket chain, which was launched in 2017 and currently has 150 outlets in the nation's 21 biggest cities. Within three years, the chain is expected to raise that amount to 2000 outlets.
The chain's supermarkets don't use registers and allow customers to use a specific app which is connected to their Alipay account. They scan the codes on the products and payment is done automatically. Hema Fresh is not just a store but also a functioning warehouse: customers can simply order online and have their groceries delivered at home.
The chain's success is mostly due to the enormous range of fresh products and the possibility to consume fresh meals on the spot. There are smaller stands located here and there throughout the store, where customers can have all kinds of food prepared for them. In that sense, Hema Fresh isn't just a (digital) supermarket, but it also functions as an actual restaurant.