During China’s biggest mid-year sales promotions, sales volume of imported clean beauty products increased 117 percent year on year, along with other stunning sales performance.
Sales volume of imported wellness increased by 106%+ year-on-year. At the same time, Gen Z are becoming the dominant consumer of imported quality products. The number of Gen Z buyers on Suning international platforms increased by 60% year-on-year.
Melody Jia, general manager of Suning International, shared the reasons behind the growth and her insights on the future of retail in the post pandemic era in an interview recently published by global business media Authority Magazine on her thoughts about the future of retail and how Suning, a leading conglomerate with businesses covering retail, real estate and financial services, has carried out its core strategies to “set the trend.”
Post-pandemic era, immersive offline retail experience is irreplaceable
“Try to be a trendsetter instead of a trend follower in the eyes of your customers,” Jia said. That was exactly how the Company brought quality brands and products to the Chinese market and adjusted its retail strategies to accommodate industry changes in the past three decades since the Chinese retail conglomerate was founded in 1990.
“The personalized, immersive offline retail experience with a human touch cannot be offered by online platforms,” Jia said. “The future development of the retail industry lies in the integration of online and offline experience on the basis of physical retailing. Retail spaces will become more diversified, as customers’ demand for leisure activities increases,” she said.
As such, Suning International has been making efforts in bringing consumers a cozier and more immersive shopping experience. Earlier this year, Suning’s high-end retail platform Sup’s joined hands with British artist Emily Forgot to design pop-up store “Play Home” in Nanjing. It’s a retail space that combines online and offline elements and offers consumers a sense of new lifestyle.
Jia said that such new retail spaces can be put to practice in Suning’s various shopping scenarios, including those in shopping malls and smaller local stores. At larger spaces Suning has been making attempts to redesign interactive zones, while at smaller stores Suning has set up lounge areas with sofa and armchairs where customers could enjoy their coffee.
“Shopping is not just about buying things but about the experience: enjoying delicious dishes, watching movies, and joining various hobby studios, among others,” Jia said. “If you casually step into a shopping mall in China, you will find that pure retail spaces are smaller, and more and more spaces are taken up by restaurants, children’s playing grounds, training institutes, and contemporary artistic exhibition spaces, and so on,” she said.
Bring quality brands and lifestyle to Chinese consumers
A major part of Suning International’s job is to bring quality brands, products and lifestyle to Chinese consumers. Thus, the company recently introduced its “one-stop solution for overseas brands to enter China” program. Suning’s digital solutions services, which include integrated cross-border trading and marketing services, help global brands enter, grow and expand in their target Chinese markets, as well as serve as an engine to boost cross-border dual circulation. Leveraging its channels and resources of Suning International, the program provides cross-border strategy consulting services, customized retail solutions and global trade, with the aim to develop Suning International into the biggest imported supply chain platform that empowers global brands to take root in China.
So far, Suning International has helped over 5,000 overseas brands in their journey to China and thrive in the vast markets.
Jia said in the interview that the newly-launched program, specifically, can help more overseas brands to penetrate these lower-tier Chinese markets and bring people living there more options.
“One interesting observation we’ve seen is that people living in small Chinese cities, towns and even villages are driving increased demand for overseas brands and products,” Jia said.
In a bid to introduce more products and brands to lower-tier cities, Suning in 2017 officially launched Retail Cloud, which has so far opened 9,000 stores across the country.
With its franchise model, Suning Retail Cloud leverages Suning.com’s retail capabilities and deep industry know-how, especially in logistics, warehouse, supply chain and technology innovations, to help micro and small merchants in county-level markets easily start a business. The Company gives training courses to store owners — mostly couples — on using digital tools including selling through live-streaming, as the new “store livestream” trend is rapidly emerging, Jia said.
“From a personal standpoint, I also find these projects meaningful because they have empowered women, often housewives in rural places in China to start their own small businesses,” Jia said.
Jia said that in the post-pandemic era, retail companies should always priorities customers, be prepared to take on challenges and carry out transformations, and most importantly be the trendsetters rather than followers in the eyes of their customers.
Founded in 1990, Suning Group has two listed subsidiaries domestically and internationally. Suning Group is ranked third among Chinese private sector companies and serves nearly 700 million users globally. Committed to its mission of leading industrial advancements that create a high quality life for all, Suning strives to be a socially-conscious corporation and leading retail service provider. Suning focuses its efforts on retail business, innovative Smart Retail, empowering industrial development and serving social entrepreneurship. The subsidiary, Suning.com, has been listed on the Fortune Global 500 for years.
About Suning International
Suning International is the international business arm of Suning Group, with two business platforms: cross border retail platform and leading cross border retail services provider Sup’s. Suning International positions itself as an import supply chain retail service platform for the new decade, to fully empower growth and prosperity of global brands in the Chinese market. (Source: Suning Group)