Haier dreams of new age for commercial property sector

May 07, 2014 10:54
Haier will share its massive customer data with tenants of Cloud Avenue, which can then use the information for tailor-made promotions and services for customers. Photo: Haier

Haier Group has kicked off its first-ever real estate project in its home turf in Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong province.

Cloud Avenue is actually an online-to-offline (020) scheme by unit Qingdao Haier Property, which boasts the project will take the commercial property sector into the new age.

Dozens of companies, including Hong Kong's health care and beauty care store chain Watsons and Japan's retailer MaxValu, have signed up to become the project's first tenants. Haier will also put up its first experience flagship store in Cloud Avenue.

How does it work? Through the years, Haier has accumulated data from hundreds of millions of customers. Now the group will share all this information with its Cloud Avenue tenants, which can then use the data for tailor-made promotions and services for clients.

Tenants can also enjoy financial services from Haier, according to Qingdao property news site house.bandao.cn.

The entire Cloud Avenue will be covered by free WiFi, providing tenants and customers with easy access to the internet, while bringing them together in a community network.

Meanwhile, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma {馬雲} was said to have met with Haier chief executive Zhang Ruimin {張瑞敏} recently, retail industry news site linkshop.com reported.

This could imply the e-commerce giant is interested in participating in the project. Cooperation between the two could take the form of Taobao opening a bricks-and-mortar store in Cloud Avenue. Customers could try on clothes and other products at the center before buying them online.

Ma has long realized that his e-commerce empire must combine forces with traditional retail businesses in order to sustain each other. Just this March, Alibaba invested HK$5.3 billion (US$683.7 million) in department store chain Intime Retail (01833.HK) as part of this O2O strategy.

Last December, it also injected HK$2.82 billion into Haier Electronics (01169.HK), mainly eyeing the group's logistics business. The entire amount is for Goodaymart, a Haier Electronics unit which has warehouses and distribution networks across the country and provides after-sales services for its retail franchisees.

So it's not surprising to see the two joining hands in the commercial property project.

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EJ Insight writer