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Chinese companies hope to bring smart retail solutions to U.S. market

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

01-20-2020 09:28 BJT

NEW YORK, Jan. 18 -- Equipped with cutting-edge products and innovative services, a group of Chinese companies made their presence at the annual retail expo this week in New York, with ambitions to tap into the U.S. market with smart retail solutions.

A POS (point-of-sale) kiosk by Hisense is seen at the Retail

A POS (point-of-sale) kiosk by Hisense is seen at the Retail's Big Show 2020 in New York, the United States, on Jan. 12, 2020. Equipped with cutting-edge products and innovative services, a group of Chinese companies made their presence at the annual retail expo this week in New York, with ambitions to tap into the U.S. market with smart retail solutions. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

Chinese companies have been weaving together the online and offline worlds toward a vision of retail that seamlessly blends stores, data, online and logistics.

"The global retail industry is in a state of flux, with digitalization as a major trend," Sam Su, senior vice president of SUNMI, a Shanghai-based technical solution provider for the retail industry, told Xinhua during the Retail's Big Show 2020, an annual expo held earlier this week by the U.S. National Retail Federation.

"In China, mobile payment solutions have quickly veered the retail industry into a new digital era where customers benefit from fast and secure online payment experiences," said Su.

As pioneers in reshaping the retail landscape, over a dozen Chinese companies, including SUNMI, Lenovo, Qingdao Hisense and Wintec System, joined the grand show with high-quality hardware facilities and retail solutions designed to enhance modern user experience.

SUNMI showcased its new IoT (Internet of Things)-powered retail solutions at the expo via three typical business scenarios, including digitized stores, an all-in-one restaurant solution and all-in-one logistics and inventory solution.

"All the solutions are in essence aimed at improving efficiency in the retail sector," Timber Zhou, SUNMI's Deputy Director of Branding, told Xinhua.

"The U.S. retail market is huge and quite sophisticated in terms of employing technology. It is one among the key overseas markets we hope to make our presence felt," she added.

Founded in 2013, the company has more than 40 IoT products and solutions, which have found their way to more than 190 countries and regions, serving over 1.5 million merchants.

The retail industry value chain in China is experiencing a digital transformation, driven by the country's big tech companies as well as a number of artificial intelligence startups, according to U.S. market research firm eMarketer.

"Technology is redefining almost everything... If you look at the retail market, it's in change right now," Matthew Bertucci, program operations manager of Retail Solutions at Lenovo, told Xinhua.

"Technology is redefining how retail gets run from a customer perspective, because it's less hands and there's a lot more visual data points coming in," he added.

A lineup of leading-edge products by the Chinese multinational technology company were displayed at the retail's show, including a tiny desktop, which Bertucci proudly dubbed as "the world's smallest computer."

Elsewhere, at a booth by Qingdao-headquartered appliance and electronics manufacturer Hisense, a POS (point-of-sale) kiosk drew plenty of attention.

The Hisense modular POS kiosk allows everything from facial payment to customized shopping experiences. Powered by vision technology, it recognizes items at checkout instantly, giving shoppers a more convenient and more personalized experience.

"This POS kiosk is in its preliminary promotion phase," Xue Mei, director of Applications&Embedded Software at Hisense, told Xinhua, adding the company hopes the new product could gain popularity both at home and abroad.

"China's retail industry is evolving rapidly. Many Chinese companies have been dedicated to working out solutions to help fit in," noted Xue. She said that Chinese retail solutions could have broad application prospects in overseas markets, including the United States.

China's shift to consumption as a driver of growth is gravitating the retail industry toward an emphasis on convenience, diversity and hands-on experience.

China is mobile-first, and mobile payments have fueled the e-commerce revolution in China. With mobile payment penetration at 86 percent, the country is virtually cashless, according to a report by research firm Gartner L2.

"Mobile payments facilitate both online and offline commerce, provide access and purchasing power to the unbanked and have transformed consumer engagement across the board," said the report, which also highlighted China's pace of innovation, the tech giant's impact on retail, prevailing same-day delivery and shopping-as-entertainment through live-streaming. 

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