Our book (2021)

Beyond New Retail: What We Learn from China Can Foretell the Future!

“It is in China, not the West, where the future of e-commerce is being staked out” (Economist, 2021)

“We’re going to apply to the US what we’ve learned in China” (Starbucks CEO)

“Why retailers everywhere should look to China” (Economist, 2021)

China’s new retail revolution will completely transform how the world thinks about retail and digital innovation. But are we ready? In this book, we share an insider’s perspective on what is happening in China to reveal the future for global retail – and we provide a clear framework to help you prepare.

Through a comparative analysis of a huge collection of cases, based on interviews and secondary sources and, of course, first-hand consumer experience, we decode China’s retail revolution for global retail and innovation executives, so they can understand what is going on and why, and what it means for the rest of the world.

Crucially, from our research, we have identified 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, we have developed a practical and simple framework – a ten-year strategic roadmap for global retail executives, which we call the “Beyond” Value Chain Model.

China’s new retail is not just about fashion, cosmetics, snacks, data-driven convenient stores and commercial live streaming. It offers a gold mine of inspirational lessons in innovation, purpose and agility for global executives across the entire retail spectrum.

For example, Meituan started out as a group-buying business but has evolved into a super-platform providing a wide variety of location-based services. Hema Fresh, which established its first store in 2016 in Shanghai, offers a new retail format that is a combination of physical stores, online app, eat-in food court and fresh-food deliveries. Pinduoduo, having acquired over 700 million active users within five years, pioneered a social e-commerce platform. If Hema built the fresh-food supply chain, then it was Pinduoduo that revolutionised the link between the underserved, low-income populace and multiple small and medium-sized manufacturers. And it is not just Viya that has benefitted from livestream selling, with US$4.5 billion revenue in 2020. Known mostly in the Western world for her artistic short videos on YouTube, Li Ziqi generates more than RMB1 billion (US$140 million) a year through her online Tmall store.

The book has 12 chapters and can be divided into four parts. The first part includes Chapter 1, the introduction. The second part includes Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5, which provide the four foundations of new retail in China. The third part includes Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, which explore the five stages of new retail. The final part includes Chapters 11 and 12, which summarises and refine the key learnings.