Chinese commercial giant Suning reveals future of Smart Retail

The first Biu store opened in Nanjing, China, mainly selling sports goods

Suning, China’s second largest non-state-owned enterprise by revenue, recently published a White Paper uncovering the future of Smart Retail.

Smart Retail: The Third-time Transformation of Retail charts retail’s evolution from bricks-and-mortar to e-commerce and now Smart Retail. It forecasts how the linear model of make-sell-consume will be superseded by one of experience-buy-make, seeing applied technology innovations including big data, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and online-to-offline (O2O) omni-channels becoming ubiquitous.

Suning says this will enable retailers to anticipate, meet and beat customer expectations by providing diversified and personalised goods and services in various consumption scenarios. An open platform of Smart Retail will also help to optimise supply chain structures, cut production costs, drive efficiency and improve economic benefits for the whole industry.

Joshua Xiang, executive vice president of R&D of Suning Commerce Group and the General Manager of Suning Global Research, said: “The advent of Smart Retail is about the four ‘A’s: it serves Anyone who needs Anything, Anywhere, Anytime. We are quickly moving towards a future where truly intelligent smart technology will provide shoppers with personalised products and services in multiple scenarios, from smart self-service shelves and shopping guide robots to drone delivery.”

Suning’s own Smart Retail strategy revolves around Smart Sourcing, Smart Selling, Smart Services, Smart Logistics and Smart Types of Business. The strategy aims to provide a smart solution to ushering in a 3D-printing era of the retail industry and driving the efficient development of business, said the company.

To showcase its credentials in Smart Selling and Smart Services. Suning has five fully autonomous Biu stores in Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing and Xuzhou. Facial recognition grants anyone linking their bank card to the Suning Finance app access to the stores where, inside, a Suning Smart Recommendation shopping guide based on big data analysis helps them with purchasing decisions. RFID technology means products need only be carried along the payment pathway for an effortless check-out taking under 15 seconds, according to Suning.

“The goal of both Smart Retail and Suning’s Biu stores is not to use machines to replace manual work, but to improve the consumer experience continuously,” Xiang stressed.

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