Western consumers will go crazy for this fascinating blend of shopping and dining
The sight of shoppers pushing supermarket trolleys among a crowd of Shanghaians chowing down seafood at a communal table is somewhat jarring. But this is a branch of Hema — one of 20 stores opened by Chinese ecommerce pioneer Alibaba in an effort to reimagine food shopping as more than a weekly chore carried out under the glare of fluorescent lights in a retailing shed.
“Is it a store? Is it a restaurant?” asks Bruno Monteyne, a former executive at Tesco, the international grocery retailer, who now follows the retail industry for Wall Street brokerage Bernstein. “I’m not sure, but it’s food experience at its best.”
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