No need to wait for good goods, anytime, anywhere——

  Instant retail has arrived

  Our reporter Kang Qiongyan Zeng Shiyang

  Consumers are accustomed to the shopping experience of online ordering and immediate purchase. This trend is irreversible.

The demand for instant retail will continue to grow steadily in the future.

  As consumption scenarios continue to shift online, instant retail has ushered in new opportunities and has gradually become a new engine driving consumption growth.

Different from traditional e-commerce, instant retail mainly relies on physical stores. Combined with the ability of 30-minute instant delivery, it not only provides consumers with a consumption experience of "everything can be delivered to home", but also promotes the deep integration of online and offline.

The "China E-Commerce Report 2021" recently released by the Ministry of Commerce shows that innovations in business models such as live e-commerce and instant retail continue to stimulate consumption vitality, drive the improvement and upgrading of online retail, and help build a unified national market.

  Everything can be at home

  Today, the delivery boxes of takeaway riders are no longer just enough to pick up and deliver meals for diners, but have gradually become a "treasure box" that can respond to various consumer needs in real time.

From fresh fruits and vegetables to daily necessities, from clothing, shoes and hats to books and audio-visual products, from medicine and cosmetics to digital products...more and more commodities are being delivered to consumers through instant retail, "everything can be delivered to home" Has become an irresistible new trend.

  "Placing orders online is very convenient and safer." Mengmeng Cao, a girl from Guangzhou, usually likes to go to the supermarket. Since the chain supermarket near her home has entered the takeaway platform, she has switched to online consumption.

"During the epidemic, try to minimize going out and gathering. It usually takes about half an hour from online ordering to door-to-door delivery, and you don't have to carry big bags by yourself." Cao Mengmeng said.

  Thanks to the convenience brought by instant retail, many young people like Cao Mengmeng are used to and fall in love with "everything, anytime, anywhere".

According to data released by the retail platform Meituan, with the expansion of resident brands from catering to daily chemical, mother and baby, digital and other categories, the number of products sold on the platform and the unit price of each customer have continued to increase, and the average daily order volume of instant retail has exceeded 4.3 million.

Among them, the immediate consumer demand for digital appliances, furniture and kitchen utensils, pet supplies and other categories has increased significantly.

During the "Double 11" period this year, the transaction volume of digital takeaway orders increased by 13 times year-on-year.

  More products, faster speed, and less time are important reasons why consumers love instant retail.

"One time at 11 o'clock in the evening, I was in urgent need of envelopes, but most of the shops were closed. If I went out to buy by myself, I don't know how long it would take." Cao Mengmeng said, "I tried to place an order through takeaway, and it was less than 20 The rider delivered it in minutes, and I realized that there are still many takeaways that can be delivered.”

  The "2022 China Instant Retail Development Report" released by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association in November shows that the market size of instant retail has grown by 81% in the past five years.

It is estimated that in 2025, the scale of the instant retail open platform model will exceed the threshold of one trillion yuan and reach about 1.2 trillion yuan.

According to the report, with the change of consumption concepts, consumers are more and more accepting of instant retail, and the instant consumption scene continues to expand, from "daily purchase" and "emergency purchase" to "big promotion purchase", "early adopter purchase" and "gifting". Buy", consumer demands are becoming more and more diverse.

  Li Jiwei, deputy director of the Meituan Research Institute, believes that during the epidemic, traditional e-commerce logistics have been impacted, and local offline consumption has also been affected. It is inconvenient for consumers to go shopping in stores, and instant retail has become an important way to unblock supply and demand.

In his view, the rapid development of the instant retail industry mainly benefits from the rapid recovery and strong resilience of offline physical retail.

"The abundant offline supply provides the soil for instant retail. The commercial form near consumers is sufficient to support their complete consumption demand, coupled with the delivery capacity of 30 minutes, the instant retail business is booming." Li Jiwei said.

  From fighting to blending

  Since the rise of e-commerce, the competition between online shopping and physical stores has never stopped.

However, in the past "Double 11", this big promotion that originally belonged to the traditional e-commerce platform is becoming a double carnival of online platforms and physical stores.

  "Ding, you have a new takeaway order, please process it in time." At 8:00 a.m., the Souhang Supermarket located on Nanding Road, Fengtai District, Beijing opened its doors to welcome customers, and orders from online also poured in like a flood.

At the service counter, more than a dozen packages of goods that have been sorted are waiting for the delivery staff to come and pick them up.

The sorter Wang Shufang pushed the shopping cart flexibly through the various corridors, while quickly swiping the screen of the mobile phone to check the sorted goods.

"The sorter should not only be familiar with the location of the goods, but also check the appearance, quantity, expiration date, etc. to ensure the quality of the goods." Wang Shufang said with her mouth, her hands kept moving.

The data shows that in the third quarter of 2022, corporate recruitment demand for sorter positions has increased significantly, ranking the ninth position that companies most want to recruit, and has become a vivid footnote to the popularity of instant retail.

  In recent years, under the impact of online e-commerce and the reduction of customer traffic, physical supermarkets have sought transformation.

By connecting to platforms such as JD Daojia, Meituan Flash Shopping, and, physical stores can share and undertake massive online consumer demand.

Shi Junlei, deputy director of operations of Beijing Shouhang Guoli Trading Co., Ltd., told reporters that since the online business was launched in March 2020, the service radius of supermarkets has been greatly expanded, and sales have also continued to rise. This year, the sales of instant retail business accounted for 8% of the total sales. , the highest branch can reach 20%.

According to reports, Sofar’s 47 stores have all been launched on the food delivery platform, and the company also provides group buying services for surrounding residents through the WeChat mini-program.

"It is estimated that in the next few years, the proportion of online business will reach more than 30%." Shi Junlei said.

  From competition to integration, real-time retail has made brick-and-mortar stores an important part of the online consumption landscape.

During the "Double 11" period this year, over 200,000 physical merchants such as supermarkets, convenience stores, mobile phone digital stores, etc. on platforms such as JD Daojia and JD. Convenient consumption experience such as delivery and minutes delivery.

From 2020 to the present, the attitude of brick-and-mortar merchants to instant retail has undergone a clear change from vacillating to fully embracing.

The relevant person in charge of JD Daojia’s supermarket business said that more and more brick-and-mortar merchants have seen the huge role played by instant retail in stimulating consumption vitality and promoting the release of domestic demand.

It is understood that the online sales of leading enterprises represented by Wal-Mart and Yonghui have reached 30% to 40%.

  No one likes to wait.

Talking about the future of instant retail, the person in charge said that consumers are accustomed to the shopping experience of online ordering and instant shopping, and this trend is irreversible.

Not only will the demand for instant retail in the future not cool down, but it will continue to maintain steady growth.

  Kaiwang shop in the back alley

  With the advantages of being closer to consumers, faster, and with more products, instant retail offline entities have opened up a new high-speed growth sales channel, and are also changing the business logic of physical retail.

  5 people, 3 stores, average monthly sales of 1 million yuan - this is the "small goal" achieved by the "post-90s" store manager Yang Yantao in 3 years.

On the day of "Double 11", the reporter came to the Harqu Pet Supplies Supermarket located on Huangshanmudian Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing. The drizzle could not stop the continuous stream of riders who came to pick up the goods.

In the store, Fang Yongkang, a clerk who is also a sorter, delivery clerk, and customer service, is busy packing and delivering goods.

"It's not the busiest time yet. The peak ordering period is usually from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. The first thing I do every day when I go to work is to send out the orders placed by customers after 0:00 am as soon as possible." Fang Yongkang said.

  Unlike traditional stores, this small store of less than 100 square meters has neither neon signs nor exquisite decoration, and it is not located in a downtown area, but lives in a back alley.

But it has nearly 1,000 kinds of products, involving all aspects of pet life such as cat and dog food, litter boxes, and insect repellents.

Looking at this small street, there are nearly 10 small shops with the theme of fresh food, grain and oil, tobacco and alcohol, and daily necessities.

This is another store form that has emerged with the development of instant retail - front warehouse.

  "The location is good, the rent is high, and the store has few customers. This is a problem faced by many retail practitioners." Li Lixun, founder of Shanghai Albatross Information Technology Co., Ltd., a retail service provider in the same city, introduced that in recent years, more and more physical stores have begun to fully access The e-commerce platform has become the front warehouse of instant retail.

The increasingly perfect distribution system has expanded the coverage of the store from the original 1 kilometer to 5 kilometers, and the location selection is no longer the decisive factor.

  In May 2020, Yang Yantao keenly seized this opportunity and opened his first pet product front warehouse in Beijing.

"Pet supplies are not high-frequency consumption, but there are often emergency needs. Instant retail has a speed advantage over traditional e-commerce, which can just meet the needs of pet owners." Yang Yantao introduced that the daily order volume during peak periods is 70 to 80 orders. The highest daily sales can exceed 20,000 yuan.

In the next two years, he tasted the sweetness and opened two new stores in Xicheng District and Tongzhou District of Beijing.

Today, with only five people, Yang Yantao's three stores are getting more and more prosperous.

In the next step, Yang Yantao is ready, "I am more optimistic about the beauty category, and I plan to replace some low-frequency products to make room for the beauty category and increase the speed of sales."

  The density and breadth of local supply directly affect the consumer experience.

The relevant person in charge of JD Daojia said that large and small physical merchants are like the "capillaries" of instant retail. They provide consumers with differentiated supply services outside the business hours of traditional supermarkets, which not only meet the daily needs of consumers. , It can also take into account the needs of some long-tail products and provide consumers with a better experience.

  Like Yang Yantao, more and more offline merchants such as convenience stores, community stores, and maternal and child stores are speeding up their "connection to the Internet", during which they will also encounter new difficulties.

"Many community stores and mom-and-pop stores still rely on small bookkeeping for purchase and sales, which is not only error-prone, but also difficult to deal with large-scale orders during peak traffic periods." Li Lixun said.

Yang Yantao also has a deep understanding of this: "The increasing number of commodities has increased the difficulty of warehousing and sorting. Especially during the big promotion period, multi-platform inventory needs to be updated in real time, which poses a challenge to the company's digital capabilities."

  There is no doubt that instant retail is injecting fresh blood into "consumption within reach".

Li Lixun said that instant retail is of great significance for enriching local supply and meeting consumer demand.

"For example, for domestic brands such as Three Squirrels, Perfect Diary, and Huaxizi that emerged from the Internet, it is difficult for consumers to find physical stores offline, but through instant retail platforms, consumers can conveniently buy the products they need." Li Lixun said .

  Sprint "last mile"

  The trend of instant retail has arrived, and consumers' requirements for the "last mile" are becoming more and more "demanding". This is the "happiness trouble" encountered by instant retail.

According to the "Insight Research Report on C-end Users of Intra-city Instant Delivery Platform" released by iResearch, 62.8% of users accept delivery time within 30 minutes to 50 minutes, and more than 18% of users expect delivery within 30 minutes of placing an order. Received the goods.

  With rich local supply on the one hand and massive consumer demand on the other, instant delivery is responsible for connecting supply and demand and integrating online and offline, and it has become the "new infrastructure" of intra-city retail.

Data show that as of the end of 2021, there will be about 13 million online delivery workers in my country, and the number of online delivery workers who "run on the road" every day has reached the level of one million.

Even so, in the face of a surge in orders brought about by factors such as bad weather, platform promotions, annual holidays, and hot events, phenomena such as no one accepting orders, overtime orders, and full capacity contracts still hinder real-time retail.

  According to Gao Qiang, head of Hema’s operations in Beijing, after the start of the World Cup, the order of the “Watching Companion Combination” of crayfish + beer has increased by more than 5 times; due to the impact of the epidemic recently, Beijing consumers’ online purchases of consumer goods peaked at daily orders 3 times the amount.

"Due to the shortage of transportation capacity, half of the clerical staff in Hema's Beijing headquarters have supported positions such as picking and packing, and store employees also work part-time as delivery staff, and have reached intentions with many companies such as Haidilao and Yunhaiyao. The method is to supplement the manpower as much as possible, and nearly 100 people have signed up so far." Gao Qiang said.

  Ma Xiaosen, secretary-general of the Beijing Electronic Commerce Association, said that the current job gaps are mainly for tally staff, delivery staff, and cashiers. Instant retail platforms such as Dingdong Maicai and have cooperated with traditional service-oriented enterprises, which has alleviated the problem of insufficient capacity of online platforms to a certain extent.

  It is worth noting that "lack of transport capacity" is not limited to "shortage of riders", and sprinting the "last mile" is not just as simple as delivering goods from point A to point B. Behind it is the test of the overall dispatching ability of the whole process of instant retail .

  The "2022 Instant Retail Fulfillment Delivery Service White Paper" data shows that in 2021, my country's instant fulfillment delivery orders will exceed 30 billion orders, and the number of users will exceed 600 million; it is expected to exceed 40 billion orders in 2022, and the number of users will exceed 750 million.

The increase in order volume and the number of users has increased the complexity of fulfillment and delivery, and has also promoted the innovative application of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things in warehousing, sorting, and distribution.

Entering the Hema store, the AI ​​visual scale technology can accurately identify more than 1,000 kinds of dried fruits and vegetables in only 0.8 seconds, saving about three-quarters of the waiting time; smart price tags shorten the picking process from 15 minutes to 4 minutes; The suspension chain system on the ceiling allows the sorters to take tens of thousands of steps less per day, but can complete 3 times the previous workload...

  "A perfect performance and delivery service system is the support foundation of instant retail and the key to competition." Ma Xiaosen said that on the one hand, the instant retail platform must establish a scientific forecasting and early warning mechanism, cut peaks and fill valleys, dynamically adjust capacity demand, and respond accurately Issues such as unbalanced orders in different regions and at different times.

On the other hand, through digital empowerment, the entire link of offline stores, warehousing, picking, and distribution is optimized, and while improving the efficiency of contract fulfillment and delivery, it brings benefits to all participants such as merchants, riders, and consumers. Better experience and achieve win-win in the industry.

(Economic Daily)