Chinese retail electronics giant Suning has had an online e-commerce platform for quite a while now, but it hasn’t been able to compete on quite the same level as the online market’s dominant players (especially Alibaba). But with retail business hurting and profits taking a nosedive over the past quarter, it’s clearly time for a change. Now, Suning chairman Sun Weimin says that change is coming in the form of a wholesale shift from being a retail company to being an internet company.
In an interview with Sina Tech and other media outlets, Sun said that the company had already committed to this decision and suggested that the company’s retail and online offerings would be integrated, although exactly how isn’t clear. Its e-commerce platform has already begun to integrate a variety of products from baby food to daily necessities that aren’t a part of its traditional retail business. Sun says the company plans to move towards a “portal” or “platform” model that sees it focused mostly on the merchandise and operations. Suning hasn’t detailed this plan officially, but sources told Sina Tech that it would be a free and open platform and that it’s likely to launch for the first time next month.
And as an internet company, Suning will be working on other projects that reportedly include open platforms for cloud technology, data, banking, and distribution. Needless to say, this shift also requires a massive internal adjustment at the company, and it seems likely there could be some big personnel changes over the next few months as a result of that.
It’s a very ambitious-sounding plan, especially for a company that, as of last week, only had 0.9 percent of the e-commerce market in China. Whether or not it works will depend on what the company actually looks like post-transformation, and we don’t have a very clear picture of that yet. But if one of China’s retail giants is moving further away from brick-and-mortar and deeper into the web, it’s a great sign for Chinese e-commerce, and a not-so-great sign for brick-and-mortar commerce.
(via Sina Tech)