New Retail — Supermarket of the Future according to Alibaba (in China)

By | June 22, 2021

Your Future Supermarket from New Retail

freshippo kiosk

freshippo kiosk

From Wired UK Jun 2021

Shopping bag conveyer belts, personalised food recommendations and facial recognition payments aren’t so futuristic anymore

In Brief:

  • 200 Freshippo supermarkets
  • Precise products scanned, go to conveyor belt to back, and then are delivered
  • Pay for it all via facial recognition
  • Blockchain technology helps trace thru supply chain
  • Robotic shopping carts controlled by wristband
  • Display, ordering and shipping all under one roof
  • Each employee averages 120 orders per day
  • Coming — AI assistant on your phone
  • Lockdown doubled online orders
  • Which leaves traditional grocers with strategic decisions to make. How can they fulfill online orders while staying profitable? And how can they make better use of their sprawling bricks and mortar estates?


The sight of shopping bags being whipped above your head on conveyor belts is the first clue that Freshippo isn’t your average supermarket.

Pickers in pale blue polo shirts scour shelves, scanning barcodes with smartphones to locate the precise brand of apples, sesame oil or spice mix that match online orders. Once found, items are dropped into a bag, hooked onto the automated conveyor system and whisked up and off to the back of the shop, where delivery bikes await.

There are now more than 200 Freshippo supermarkets like this up and running in China, all serving as both ultra-high-tech supermarkets and state-of-the-art fulfillment centres (within a three kilometre radius, all online orders arrive within 30 minutes of when a shopper clicks “buy”). They are all owned and operated by e-commerce behemoth Alibaba as part of its plan to take the lead on what it calls “New Retail”. And as supermarkets in the west emerge from the effects of the pandemic, Freshippo may well provide a blueprint for how they’ll reimagine their own stores too.