Walmart, Alibaba battle for online grocery delivery supremacy in China

The battle for food and seafood delivered via e-commerce is heating up in China.

This week, Walmart opened its first small-format Walmart Supermarket in Shenzhen, China, which will deliver seafood and other food items via its platform.

Meanwhile, Alibaba’s Hema Fresh brick-and-mortar store added 24-hour delivery service in Shanghai and Beijing. Customers can place orders on Hema’s app when brick-and-mortar stores are closed and have orders delivered in as little as 30 minutes, China Daily reported.

Alibaba plans to have 100 Hema Fresh retail locations in China by the end of the year. 

Alibaba Group also said it will acquire all outstanding shares that it does not already own in, a leading online delivery and local services platform in China. 

“This acquisition will deepen's integration into Alibaba's ecosystem and advance Alibaba's new retail strategy to provide a seamless online and offline consumer experience in the local services sector,” the online retailer said in a press release.

Notably, Alibaba is also seeking relationships with sustainable seafood suppliers in order to increase its seafood offerings, an executive working with Alibaba said at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen, Norway, in early March.

However, Walmart is also trying to achieve a larger share of China’s e-commerce business –  and its new 1,200-square-meter store in Bao’an District, Shenzhen, is similar to the Hema Fresh model. 

“The new store delivers an integrated online and offline experience, with an emphasis on fresh foods, fast delivery and everyday convenience,” Walmart said in a press release.

More than 7,000 items – around 90 percent of store’s inventory – are also available online at JD Daojia. This enables the store to provide delivery in 30 minutes or less to homes within two kilometers of the store, according to Walmart.

The small-format store offers fresh and frozen seafood, along with prepared meals, such as fish with preserved vegetables and stir-fried clams.

“Retail and lifestyle are closely linked,” said Elliot Dickson, senior vice president and chief operations officer of Hypermarket, Walmart China, in the release. “We are introducing our new Walmart Supermarket to give customers an upgraded omni-channel experience that is rooted in their own community.”

Walmart Supermarket’s soft opening day set a record for stores on the platform, with more than 1,000 orders received online, according to Walmart.

“The fastest delivery on opening day was less than 10 minutes from online order to the customer’s door,” Walmart said.

Walmart plans to open five more Walmart Supermarkets in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Dongguan by the end of this year.


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