A customer at a Yuniao supermarket in Hangzhou scans the QR code on a tomato sticker and finds out instantly where it was grown, when it was picked and how much pesticide was used in its cultivation.
THE digital age is dramatically changing our traditional shopping patterns, and industries new and old are trying to seize the opportunities that presents.
A customer at a Yuniao supermarket in Hangzhou, for example, can scan the QR code on a tomato sticker and find out instantly where it was grown, when it was picked and how much pesticide was used in its cultivation.
Indeed, the Internet is now bringing cyber power to bear in traditional industries like agriculture.
One of Hangzhou’s most famous sons, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, predicted that “an Internet company would last no longer than five years if it avoids the traditional economy.” His view echoes the aim of Premier Li Keqiang’s “Internet Plus” plan, unveiled in March, to merge the new and the old to the benefit of both.
The scanning system at supermarkets “not only tells customers whether vegetables are really organic, but it also helps farmers organize their business better,” said Guo Changying, marketing director of Hangzhou Eastelsoft Co, a software developer.
Guo said software can capture consumer data and then calculate the volumes of crop cultivation needed to meet market demand. That reduces waste and raises production value.
The software also aids farmers by monitoring factors such as humidity, sunshine and temperature, providing valuable information to aid cultivation. So far, seven local farms have adopted the software.
SDXonline, a newcomer in Hangzhou, is selling cooked crayfish via the Internet after receiving “angel investment” of 10 million yuan (US$1.61 million).
Ordering food from a website isn’t particularly new in China. Shi Zhuo, founder of SDXonline, said the success of his company relies on its use of big data.
“Through that data, we are able to analyze things such as order distribution, buyers’ distances from delivery centers and influences from weather conditions,” he explained. “That helps us target customers more precisely and control the wastage rate to below 5 percent.”
Shi, who used to work in the Alipay unit of Alibaba, cited one example where data pointed to a doubling of crayfish sales on a given day. The company bought up more wholesale crayfish and indeed sold the whole stock.
“Traditional industries look at the demands of customers and then try to satisfy them,” Shi said. “Our system anticipates the demands of consumers and sets up responses in advance.”
He said additional venture capital financing is allowing the company to expand into complementary industries.
“For example, eating crayfish is always connected with drinks,” he said.
“Internet Plus” means smarter production and logistics, leading to more tailor-made services and lower stocking and distribution costs,” said Qian Minjie, an economic consultant with Zhejiang TV Station.
Jobswall Digital Technology Co in Zhejiang is a good example. The factory, which produces fabric wallpaper and window curtains, runs 24 hours a day but has zero stock. The plant machinery goes into gear only when an order comes in, from customers selecting patterns and materials via their smartphones.
“In the past, the cost of production in this industry varied from seller to seller, and all factories maintained big stockpiles,” said Chen Jun, founder of Jobswall. “That’s all changed now.”
Hangzhou has long been considered a hub of new technologies and means to keep its edge.
To the west of the city, the newly created Yunqi Town is being hailed as Hangzhou’s “Silicon Valley.” It is home to 130 Internet-related companies in sectors such as app development, electronic games and cloud computing.
In the city’s Xihu District, the majority of companies scheduled to come online this year will involve smart technologies.
The process is successfully underway. Earlier this year, the Hangzhou-based franchise Jiuzhou Drugstore invested 2 billion yuan in an e-commerce platform, and RenShine, an online-to-offline platform, announced it expects production value of 25 billion yuan this year.
Source: Shanghai Daily