Dutch department store chain Hema is looking at its options to counter retail giant Alibaba’s Hema supermarket chain, which operates in China and currently has thirteen stores.
Even though the Dutch chain is not active in China, it does take offense to the similar name and wants to remedy the situation. However, that does not appear to be an open and shut case. “International brand legislation is complicated, because the Alibaba-owned Hema supermarkets are a different type of store to our department stores”, spokesperson Nathalie Kruger said.
The Chinese Hema stores also offer a different experience. Groceries are done through an app, whether in the store itself or at home. Shoppers pay through Alipay and then they can take home their purchase. Online orders are gathered by store personnel and placed in the adjacent delivery center. The store also sells fresh meals.
According to Alibaba, it has no intention to grow Hema into a major chain. The stores are merely there to trial new technology, which Alibaba claims has promising results. More than half of the orders are placed online and in stores that have been around a while longer, that number grows to more than 70 %. Since the store is a supermarket and a warehouse for online orders, it allegedly sells three to five times more per square meter than a traditional supermarket.