Hema Xiansheng scores publicity coup as it draws seafood customers with transparency

Published on
May 10, 2018

Transparency is paying off in seafood sales for Alibaba-backed supermarket chain Hema. 

The chain has won favorable publicity over its practice of supplying staff with scissors to snip the corners of the plastic bags in which fish are sold live from the store’s tanks. Hema Xiansheng (the name translates roughly as “boxed/packaged freshness and liveliness”) stores operated by Alibaba’s online commerce group have even launched an online mascot highlighting the practice – Tony the aproned salesman, smiling with scissors in hand. The mascot has drawn attention on social media platforms like Weibo. 

In many ways modeled on the Whole Foods chain, Hema’s customer-focused friendliness and transparency – through better labeling of products – make it the antithesis of China’s traditional retail scene. 

Online sales and home delivery have been selling points for Hema. However, the promise of traceability and food safety is one of Hema’s strongest hands in attracting customers into China’s seafood market, which has long been dominated by wet markets and large supermarkets that haven’t always been as forthcoming on stock origin and labeling. Customers can also buy eat seafood in-store at Hema locations. 

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