It’s been just a month or so since Shenzhen-based courier SF Express took convenience outlets to the next level with its Heike shops but already there’s been some surprises in store.
Senior citizens have been among the first to embrace the new shopping concept, especially at outlets near residential areas, according to Jinghua Times.
Rather than carrying stock, the stores let shoppers order merchandise by scanning product display cards with QR codes. Shoppers can then choose to pick the deliveries at the outlets or have them delivered to their home.
Heike serves more like a sales channel for its partners, including Dah Chong Hong, handbag seller Mbaobao and B2C ecommerce platform Feifei.com. It receives 8 percent of sales as commission on each transaction.
Fresh food such as fruit and seafood are among the hottest items — good news for SF Express because the products have gross profit margins of up to 30 percent, according to the reports.
Heike is an easy entry-level way for older consumers that usually steer clear of new technology to learn about online shopping. There are 500 or so of the outlets across the country but SF Express aims to boost the number to at least 4,000 within a year.
Heike business director Ceng Yun told Jinghua Times that the stores are about half the cost to get up and running than ordinary convenience stores. The Beijing-based newspaper put the Heike store cost in the region of half a million yuan.
Heike stores are not yet profitable, and upcoming capital requirements will be huge if SF Express is to meet its expansion plan. But the sizable funds the company raised last year should be more than enough to cover the startup investment and early losses.
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