Another week, another semi-futuristic retail scenario pioneered in China and tested out by the intrepid journalist-shoppers at TechNode. This time they took a spin through one of Alibaba’s mobile-powered Hema convenience stores. Hema (盒马) translates to “box horse,” but the same pronunciation yields the Chinese word for hippo, which is the store’s mascot:

Shoppers download a Hema app and link it with Alibaba’s mobile pay app Alipay and/or its e-commerce app Taobao. Using in-store Wifi, they scan items to get info and facilitate the checkout process.

The most unexpected takeaway from TechNode’s recent visit to a newly opened Beijing Hema store? Excellent seafood:

Aside from regular fresh produce, shoppers can hand-pick their own crabs, shellfish, lobsters, or clams, and have them cooked right away for take-out, delivered to their home, or eat in at the store’s dining area.

Looks like this:

We’ll download Hema and get up to one of these new Beijing stores soon for our own report. In the mean time read TechNode’s savvy breakdown of what this means in the context of Alibaba’s holistic “new retail strategy” here.

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