[TMTpost’s new column Photo Gallery aims to record individuals and entrepreneurs in the Internet industry: whether young ambitious entrepreneurs who have just found their place in the world of business, star investors who walk through different venues, programmers who spend hours of time writing codes in front of the computer screen, or Internet operators, geeks, even delivery guys…It is their collective efforts and devotion that constitute the Internet world we live in right now, so their moments are worth recording, and remembering. Photos don’t lie, but they don’ tell the whole truth; photos are free, but they are also full of traps. Therefore we present the images we see, and let you have your own understanding of these individuals.]
O2O, undoubtedly, was one of the hottest words in 2015. From restaurant-booking to takeaway food, from housework appointment to online education… O2O seems to be penetrating into every sector of business. However, O2O was not only influencing the entire Chinese Internet industry, but also tiny convenience stores at the end of the street.
Kanghui Convenience Store of Chaoyang District was one of them. Similar to other convenience stores in Beijing, Kanghuiyuan, first opened in 2009, was also located in a residential community. Local residents could not only pay their electricity and water bills, pick up and send parcels at the convenience store, but also make housework appointment. These stores are no longer ones we used to see oftentimes. In TMTpost Photo Gallery 011, we’d like to record the hustle and bustle of Kanghuiyuan Convenience Store in a single day: January 15th, 2016 to give you a better idea of what is happening in Chinese convenience stores right now.
09:30, January 15th, 2016. Zhang Hui (pseudonym), owner of the convenience store, was cleaning the store. Mrs. Zhang and her husband Tang Yuan (pseudonym) changed their 70-square-meter apartment a little bit and made room for the convenience store, which sells mainly beverages, snacks, alcohols, cigarettes and other daily necessities.
The customer service agent from a fresh produce O2O platform called Mrs. Zhang and asked her for details due to a consumer’s complaint. After Mrs. Zhang explained to the agent, it turned out that the complaint had nothing to do with Mrs. Zhang’s convenience store. “Another convenience store was supposed to deliver the goods to the customer, but since that store was out of stock, we were told to deliver the good instead after quite a while. However, soon after we accepted the order, the customer canceled the order due to so much delay.”
There was a steady traffic of deliverymen and parcels in the convenience store since it opened in the morning. At 11 am, Mrs. Zhang began to input the necessary information into the parcel system. “For around half a month, I was so busy that I’ve got no time to eat lunch,” she recalled. At that period, Mrs. Zhang would ask the recipients to pick up their parcels within less than 24 hours, since most of these parcels contained products such as goose-down jackets or cotton-padded jackets, which took up much room.
At 11:30 am, several deliverymen got packed up in the abbey outside of the convenience store. At most deliverymen from 20 express companies would send parcels here every day. Some deliverymen just piled up the parcels in the abbey since the convenience was too small to hold all the parcels.
A deliveryman from a fresh produce online platform delivered some fresh fruit to the convenient store. Since 2014, over 10 O2O platforms have turned to the convenient store for possible cooperation opportunities. The first O2O platform soon went bankrupt since its platform could only be logged onto via PCs. According to Mr. Tang, their convenience store commonly accepted 7 to 8 orders, and sometimes over 10 orders every day. Mr. Tang delivered these products by himself with an electric bicycle.
Mrs. Zhang would re-organize the storage rack every time new products were sent to the store. When he found that some consumers order products that have been sold out, he would explained the details to the platform.
At 12 pm, a deliveryman sent to the convenience store a large bag of parcels.
With the spread of mobile payment tools, Mr. Tang’s convenience store also supported payment by these tools.
A customer was buying some snacks from the convenience store. “The ratio of revenues from O2O platforms remains low”, explained Mr. Zhang. As a matter of fact, there was no much thing as important as choosing a good spot.
Before Mr. Tang convenience store, he worked as an engineer in weak-current sector. So he could fix some simple problems for local residents. “In the past, only relatives would turn to me for help; yet gradually an increasing number of people would turn to me for voucher coupons,” Mr. Tang revealed.
At 2 pm, a local resident ordered some snacks online. Mr. Tang accepted the order and delivered the snacks within ten minutes. Online channels enables their convenience store to reach a larger crowd of consumers, yet their store was so tiny that they had to be very specific about how many products they should buy and how many products they might sell.
At 4 pm, Mr. Tang was driving to the retailing market to fill the stock.
A customer placed an order online and ordered some extremely cheap fruit. However, the customer’s address was outside of the delivery region. A customer service agent from the e-tailer called Mrs. Zhang and pleaded them to deliver the fruit anyhow. They were discussing whether they should go or not.
The customer lived in an urban village, which was quite difficult to find. Mr. Tang even couldn’t get through to the customer sometimes. It took him almost 20 minutes to find the place with his electric bicycle at last and deliver the product.
Residents of the housing district came to pick up their package one after another.
Mr. Tang was delivering bottled water to a resident around 9 pm.
Account paper and post-it notes, common signs for any convenience store, are stuck to the white board randomly. The opening time of the convenience store usually extends to 12 pm or even 1 am and lasts for more than 14 hours generally. Although the profit margin is quite low and there isn’t much room for further expansion, its owners work day and night and budget very carefully. Since such convenience stores are naturally easy to find, near and quite convenient, they do possess a fair amount of potentials.
TMTpost Photo Gallery
Special column of TMTpost
Aiming to record individuals and entrepreneurs in the Internet industry
Photos don’t lie, but they don’ tell the whole truth
Photos are free, but also full of traps
This is an Internet age, and we want you to discover stories with us online
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @fliesslaughterhouse, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.