Collection points and alternative sales locations are growing in China thanks to e-commerce. In fact, within the Chinese e-commerce market, the overall online-to-offline trend is growing as online providers look to expand their reach.
Alibaba’s Tmall has partnered with convenience stores for a while now and the group has also purchased 25% of the department store operator Intime Retail. Tencent has followed suit.
Meanwhile, according to news sources, SF Express has opened over 500 service outlets in 70 cities. These outlets, named ‘Heike’, offer services such as mail and collection of packages, try out products and place orders online.
Another example is that of JD.com which has announced plans to integrate with over 11,000 convenience stores – allowing for customers to collect what they order online. According to JD.com, there are no unified standards for convenience stores and as such, JD.com is partnering with ERP software service providers to create a single platform for these stores to operate.
According to news sources, JD.com is expected to offer free delivery within the hour and premium delivery service of within 15 minutes for a fee. After-sales services for online goods will be handled within the physical partner stores.
Indeed, the growing partnerships and integration between online and physical locations are on the rise and convenience stores are a likely outlet for this connection. According to the China Chain Store & Franchise Association, there is one convenience store for every 5,000 people. But, this is changing as these stores are considered to be the fastest-growing within the retail sector with a growth rate of 19.5% in 2013.
Similarly, ‘Click and collect’ is becoming a norm throughout Europe and gradually taking hold in the US market. Many delivery providers are offering this solution in these locations – Hermes, Yodel, DPD, GLS, DHL to name a few. UPS has also launched its own solution, ‘UPS Access Points’ and is expanding it across Europe. In 2013, it named Joe Mozzali as Global UPS Access Points deployment manager and is expected to oversee the roll-out of UPS Access Points in new markets with a focus on Europe. Could we eventually see UPS Access Point outlets in China? Maybe but it’s doubtful that it will be anytime soon as it continues to focus on Europe.