China’s largest retail chain, Sun Art, is challenging US multinational retailer Walmart in the country’s burgeoning e-commerce sector in a bid to keep its business competitive, Reuters reports.
Sun Art has announced that it intends to commence online shopping and home deliveries in Shanghai in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"The products that will be available on our online platform will be way more than what we are selling in the stores," executive director Peter Huang said on Thursday, Reuters reports. "We do not aim to compete in pricing or any cash-burning model."
These comments came a day after Sun Art reported a 14.8 per cent rise in net profit for the first half of 2013.
The venture is a joint enterprise being undertaken with local company Excellent First.
Competition in the hypermarket sector has become increasingly fierce of late, with an affiliation between Tesco and China Resources Enterprise announced this August posing a potential challenge to Sun Art’s dominance.
Online retailing is a small but rapidly developing part of China’s retail sector, with sales for 2013 estimated at a total value of RMB11.5bn (US$1.88bn).
Online retailers’ marketing strategy includes references to the produce it provides as “farm-fresh”, designed to appeal to Chinese consumer preferences for freshness and concerns regarding food safety.
With average household income quadrupling between 2000 and 2012, China’s fast-growing middle class is thought to have propelled the sector’s growth.