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Wal-Mart plans to launch a mobile shopping app in China

May 4, 2015 11:39 AM
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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is ramping up its e-commerce operation in China, and that includes offering its first mobile shopping app in that country.

“China is an important strategic market for Wal-Mart. We plan to open 115 stores in China over the next three years,” Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said in Beijing on Wednesday. “We also plan to provide more e-commerce services in China. Wal-Mart has a huge advantage in e-commerce because we can integrate online with our stores.”

McMillon, who has visited China three times in the past 15 months, says Wal-Mart will soon launch an app that lets Chinese consumers order products, such as foods and household products, and pick them up in the retailer’s stores or have them shipped to their homes or other locations. He also says Wal-Mart will accept a variety of electronic payment methods so that consumers can pay with their smartphones at Wal-Mart stores. He did not specify the payment systems, but some of the most popular are Alipay from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tenpay from Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Wal-Mart, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, entered China in 1996 and now operates 412 stores in 165 Chinese cities. Wal-Mart has had a mobile app that lets shoppers find nearby stores but has not had an app that lets consumers make purchases.

Similarly, Wal-Mart operates an informational site at Walmart.cn. The world’s largest retailer by sales staked its claim in online retailing in China by acquiring a 51% stake in Yihaodian, a retailer mainly of food and household items that is No. 7 in the Internet Retailer 2015 China 500. Yihaodian increased its selection to 8 million SKUs in 2014 from 180,000 in 2011, in part by adding to its e-commerce site a marketplace where other merchants can sell. McMillon says Wal-Mart recently has started selling on its own storefront on the on the Yihaodian marketplace.

McMillon says Wal-Mart is satisfied with the performance of Yihaodian. A new Yihaodian service enables online shoppers to get grocery products within three hours in eight Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Yihaodian previously offered same-day delivery in several big cities.

Wal-Mart also has a presence in China, both online and offline, through its Sam’s Club warehouse club subsidiary. Sam’s Club launched its Chinese shopping site, SamsClub.cn in 2010, and offers a mobile shopping app.

Wal-Mart has not disclosed the online sales of Sam’s Club, but it says a Sam’s Club store in Shenzhen, China, has been the top-selling Wal-Mart store in the world for the past seven years. Sam’s Club operates 11 stores in China.  

 

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