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Camellia Aebischer


Digitising China’s wet markets

Alibaba-owned digital platform allows local wet markets to easily reach convenience-led consumers

Digitising China’s wet markets

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On-demand delivery app,, has opened up new opportunities for China’s historic wet market traders.

The retail giant says many Chinese consumers still prefer to shop for fresh produce, meat and seafood at these local markets, which typically trade in low-tech settings.

China’s unique online platforms catering for local services have allowed wet markets to utilise digitisation in their typically-offline businesses and provide convenience to a modern consumer base.

China’s large consumer base and density of retail establishments have fuelled the demand for convenient access to local services. The country’s urban expansion phenomenon and strong movement toward digitisation are also significant factors in the growing trend.

Vendors who use the platform can receive and fill orders using the app, and an appointed delivery person will collect and transport the order to the customer. The app also includes function for pre-orders and scheduled delivery windows.

A wet market vendor told Alizila her business has been utilising the platform since 2017, with the amount of orders increasing each year. After her son used the app for ordering food, he saw an opportunity for the stall’s fresh produce.

The trader said often times her son will ask his sister to help fulfil orders as there are too many for him to manage on his own.

New Retail movement

Alibaba said the New Retail trend, which blends online and offline shopping, will continue to digitise the operations of traditional businesses.

“Alibaba is rapidly assembling the two new critical assets for e-commerce: physical locations and on-demand delivery. Once they have those across China, they will be able to offer virtually products and services to everyone with blinding speed and convenience” said Peking University professor Jeff Towson.

“From online to the physical world, and now from products to local services plus on-demand delivery, Alibaba is building the ultimate B2C marketplace.”

Alibaba predicts the future for some offline retail stores will be eventual transform into fulfilment centres and service hubs.

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