Alibaba’s Freshippo Delivers in China
Alibaba supermarket chain Freshippo has been facing a dilemma as online orders for fruit were rising but supplies were low. Chinese people retreated to their homes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemicc resulting to high online ordering.
Freshippo has asked its staff members to rip up bulk fruit boxes and break them up to sell individually instead. These boxes were originally prepared as Lunar New Year gift sets.
Known as Hema in Chinese, Freshippo has about 200 stores across the country. It has also launched a group-buying scheme for locked-down residents of Wuhan. It’s usual delivery uses bike-riding couriers and now uses commissioned buses to deliver individual bags of groceries.
Freshippo’s measures offers an example to similar businesses using online technology in Europe and the U.S. Stockpiling has left supermarket shelves empty as many staples and other essential items were already purchased ahead more than needed.
Hou Yi, president of Alibaba’s Freshippo said nobody saw this coming, and a whole ton of challenges surfaced. Supermarkets might face more difficulties in the U.S. compared to their counterparts in China. Most stores were less equipped to deal with large numbers of online orders, Hou said.
To centralize delivery, the company has sent its inventory of dry goods including noodles and flour to a Shanghai warehouse. It had been able to stock up ahead of their Lunar New Year celebrations.
Technology News on Alibaba’s Freshippo Biggest Challenge
The five-year-old supermarket’s biggest challenge is delivering to Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19 virus.
Roadblocks set up by the government, shortage of staff disrupted operations and social-distancing requirements hindered their last mile delivery. Freshippo had to obtain permits to enter and exit Hubei and find volunteer truck drivers to do the job. Plus a mandatory 14-day quarantine after coming back from the disease-stricken province had to be done, Hou said.
Alibaba had to hire thousands of people to cope with staff shortage employing workers from the government-mandated shutdown of businesses. They hired ex-employees of small businesses including restaurants and shops that shut due to COVID-19.
Hou said they have simplified their procedures about modern technology in-store training to make everything easier to understand. Usually after about two hours of instruction, they could already hit the ground running, he added.
Hou wrote in a social media post that Freshippo’s services had gone back to normal on March 2. The company has well-adapted to keep delivering around the virus hit country of China.
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