China’s new retail revolution will completely transform how the world thinks about retail and digital innovation. But is the world ready yet? In this book, the authors share an insider’s perspective on what is happening in China to reveal the future for global retail, and a clear framework to help you prepare.
The book presents a number of real-world cases, based on interviews and first-hand consumer experience, to decode China’s retail revolution so that you can understand what is happening and why, and what it means for the rest of the world. Crucially, the book identifies five critical stages in the development of new retail that global retail executives need to grasp now: lifestyle commerce, Online-Merge-Offline retail, social retail, livestream retail and invisible retail. To help the industry get ready for this new, China-inspired paradigm in retail, the authors present a practical and simple framework – a ten-year strategic roadmap for global retail executives, which we call the “Beyond” the Value Chain Model.
China’s new retail is not just about fashion, cosmetics, snacks, data-driven convenient stores and commercial live streaming. At a time when the world of retail is being upended, it offers inspirational lessons in innovation, purpose and agility for global executives across the entire retail spectrum.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: The New World of Disruption
Part I: Four Pillars Of New Retail
2. The Rise of China’s E-commerce: A Two-Decade Boom
3. The Ubiquitous Express Delivery: The Hidden Power of Retail
4. Third-party Payment: Turning China Into a Cashless Society
5. Social Media Platforms: The New Retail Accelerator
Part II: Five Stages Of New Retail
6. Location-Based e-Commerce: Lifestyle Remade
7. Fresh Food: Merging Online and Offline
8. Social E-commerce: Reaching the Bottom of the Pyramid
9. Livestream Celebrity Selling: Taking Retail By Storm
10. Ultimate Experience Retail: When Craft Meets e-Commerce
Part III: Making Sense Of New Retail
11. Three Kingdoms: The Invisible Hand of Ecosystems
12. The Conclusion: Retail Reinvented in China for The World
Winter Nie is a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD Business School. She is the co-author of Made in China—Secrets of China’s Dynamic Entrepreneurs (2009) and In the Shadow of the Dragon—The Global Expansion of Chinese Companies (2012). She started this research project in 2016.
Mark J. Greeven is a Chinese-speaking Dutch professor of innovation and strategy at IMD Business School in Switzerland and former faculty at China’s leading innovation institute at Zhejiang University. He is the author of Pioneers, Hidden Champions, Changemakers, and Underdogs (MIT Press, 2019) and Business Ecosystems in China (Routledge, 2017).
Yunfei Feng is a researcher at IMD and had many in-depth interviews and discussions with the Chinese executives. She has kept up with the most cutting-edge development in China’s e-commerce and digital space. She had her own entrepreneurial venture in online business education.
James Wang is an economist and a Professor of Finance at City University of Hong Kong. His commentaries, written for hedge fund managers, on topics such as Sino-American relations, style and substance of the 5th-generation leaders of China, prospects of SOE reforms and other contemporary topics, were collected in the book Early Innings of A Long Game.
"China has become the most relevant market for luxury goods worldwide and its effect is reshaping the industry well beyond its boundaries. At Puig we have been present in China for many years, with the objective of building our brands with a long term perspective. It has been fascinating to see at which pace consumer habits have evolved. What took decades in other areas of the world, has taken just a few years in China. These highly paced changes in consumer behavior linked to the fact that the ecosystem is absolutely unique has posed a real challenge to many Western brand owners developing their brands in this unique market. This book offers very interesting insights on the different realities of this ecosystem and the role of the different forces that interrelate in it. It has helped us get a better understanding and a new perspective to what it takes to successfully build your brands and your business in China." - Javier Bach, COO of Puig Beauty & Fashion
"FMCG executives all over the world need to understand how the Chinese retail and digital ecosystem is already completely redefining consumers expectations from their brands. This eye-opening and insightful book can help you prepare for the new world coming your way." - Patrice Bula, Executive Vice President Nestlé S.A., Head of Strategic Business Units, Marketing, Sales and President Nespresso (2011-2021)
"New Retail is one of the most visible examples of China’s undisputed areas of leadership. This book does an excellent job of describing what it is and its various business models. More importantly through its comprehensive analyses, it unfolds all its complexity and phenomenal impact within the country and on the rest of the world.
New retail starts from consumer intimacy, is built upon excellence in supply chain, uses creativity and technology to deliver the ultimate experiential retail or "Retailtainment" as delineated and further prescribed by the authors.
We live in times of constant disruption. Through this book everyone can see how a profound transformation can be the only way forward." - Gianfranco Casati, CEO of Accenture Growth Markets
"In my 30 years of living and working in China this is the first book that I have read that fully articulates and analyzes the history and key players involved in the e-commerce revolution in China. This book is a must read for anyone or any company that wants to enter the China retail market, to expand its presence in China, or to learn about the global e-commerce trends." - Mei-Wei Cheng, Former Chairman & CEO of GE (China) & Ford Motor (China), President & CEO Siemens China, and President & COO AT&T China
"The IMD authors understand in depth the Chinese business culture and traditions, and are able to overlay this knowledge on the western ways of doing business. The outcome is an inventory of opportunities to catch, of potential threats to assess and anticipate, and often a wake-up call to rethink strategies. China is way ahead when it comes down to e-commerce; this is a fact. As I have observed in sectors like banking, insurance or telecoms, we in the West often hide ourselves behind excuses to explain why we are behind. Different privacy concepts, stricter regulatory rules. Maybe, but what about audacity, creativity and speed of action? It’s not too late to read this book, and decide whether we want to be leaders or followers." - Michel Demaré, Chairman of IMD Business School and Deputy Chairman of Louis Dreyfus Company
"Professor Nie and her coauthors have done a great service by articulating clearly the incredible digital retail phenomenon happening in China. Our company has been trying to crack the Chinese market in a big way for 30 years by extending our business model from the West into China. Now leveraging the new retail trends, we build our Modern Agriculture Platform to help farmers grow crops in a more environmentally friendly way and to connect them directly to consumers. The ideas that this book articulates can open up great growth opportunities in China for global companies. In the future, some of these models can be applied outside China." - J. Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta
"Over the past two decades millions of Chinese have become ‘modern’ shoppers and consumers for the first time, the boom growth phase in the Chinese consumer economy has happened without the ‘legacy assets’ and traditions of Western markets’ retail format and platform technologies. Free of these precursors a vibrant entrepreneurial commercial culture has emerged that has scaled like nowhere earlier in economic world history, and a leading edge and completely different retail, shopper and consumer eco-system has emerged for China. There is no longer a global standard go-to-market model for developed economies. Companies seeking to succeed in China need to build a bespoke approach in China in order to win for China in China. And whilst China continues to learn and sort out the most valuable lessons very rapidly from the rest of the world, the world needs to accelerate to learn much faster from the China experience – both to succeed in China and to evolve existing retail structures in the Western markets. I recommend reading the Future of Global Retail because the authors explain the revolution of new retail coming from China and how that may inspire and impact global retail leaders." - Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chair, the LEGO Brand Group
"While I experience the new retail as an active consumer living in China, I must say that it is not always easy for anyone who lives in China to explain the new phenomenon and make sense of what’s going on. The book does a wonderful job explaining all the "messy" complications of the new retail. As a digital native and Chinese netizen, I find the analysis of these new retail developments refreshing and insightful. It helps me see the big picture." - Rui Meng, China digital native / netizen
‘’The Future of Global Retail: Learning from China’s Retail Revolution is a pioneering work on tracing the evolution and future of retail in China. China is the consumer story of the century and new retail is its major amplifier. Winning in new retail, and in all its growth formats is critical for all global players as this market shapes the future of consumer led businesses in the world. The book makes for a highly engaging read, with inspiring stories of retail revolutionaries and how it all comes together. This is an extremely useful guide for all CPG executives who aspire to make sense, learn how to play and win in the most innovative, digitized and complex retail market in the world.’’ - Rohit Jawa, Chairman Unilever China & EVP Unilever North Asia
"Having been running a business in Asia for the last 12 years, I noticed that the more western executives are remote from China, geographically or in terms of their responsibility, the more they are scared about it. This book will help executives understand that the basic tenet running business in China is not that different from other parts of the world--you must relentlessly win your customers. The stories in this book demonstrate in a fantastic way that real customer centricity drives success. This is truly inspiring for many entrepreneurs in and out of China. The "scary" part is how these entrepreneurs in China learn so fast, experiment so quickly, and scale up so rapidly." - Frederic De Rougemont, CEO of USG BORAL
"Beyond New Retail offers a fascinating look into the Chinese retail ecosystem and its impacts on the future of global retail. The authors’ masterful analysis of thousands of regional: case studies provides a strategy blueprint essential for any business keen to stay ahead of the curve. Their "Beyond" Value Chain Model extrapolates local trends and ensures they are universally applicable, relevant to companies irrespective of their geography. At X5, we have had the pleasure of working with IMD through our New Retail program and have utilised many of the insights featured to transform our business for future growth. I believe it is now vital for industry leaders to pay close attention to China's road to success and learn from it. This book helps do just that." - Igor Shekhterman, CEO of X5 Retail Group, Russia's largest food retailer.
"This book offers powerful insights. It challenges us in industries and regions outsides China to learn from these developments. As boundaries of service, product and market blur, this book compels us to ask hard questions and find dynamic solutions before it is too late."- Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President, Bangkok Bank Public Company Limited
"As an active participant in the Chinese new retail revolution, I witnessed first-hand the push by capital market, the development of informational technologies, the maturation of manufacturing, and the accompanying growth of new business models. Along with it, there are of course the blood and sweat of the forgotten practitioners of new retail revolution.
Survivors of this process are winners who can more efficiently address consumers pain points and who have superior execution powers. Consumers worldwide demand better solutions to their needs. I sincerely hope that the solutions the Chinese entrepreneurs came up with, as conveyed in this book, will be more widely known and bring about changes."
Yihong Guan, Chairman and CEO of Jiumaojiu Group