Internet giants Alibaba and JD.com are still flirting with plans to open self-serve stores, but the first group of similar businesses has imploded in Shanghai. BingoBox, the city’s first self-service convenience store chain, closed its shops on Ouyangshang Road and Zhabei RM-Mart on September 27.
The company received complaints about the location of their shops. “We are working to reach an agreement with the government and gain legal recognition. With government supervision and a clear policy, we could develop in a healthier and more orderly way,” said Chen Zilin, founder of BingoBox.
The chain was forced to suspend its business shortly after launching in June. It then came under investigation by city managers for engaging in “unapproved construction,” according to media reports. Chen said the launch of BingoBox came with policy risks and “experienced multiple setbacks.” He said he hoped “China can issue clear guidance on this model as well as legal classification. Self-service stores brings convenience and benefit users. I hope there will be laws for us to follow and guide us in development.”
From New Retail proposed by Alibaba to the Forth Retail Revolution by JD.com and Smart Retail by Suning, self-service retail is a popular business concept. According to a forecast by ii Media Research, trade volume in self-service stores in China will reach 38.94 billion yuan this year and 1.8 trillion yuan by 2022. Although industry giants are still forming the layout, Chen is confident about BingoBox. “There definitely is pressure,” he said, “But giants’ access to the industry further proves the market value. Besides, the market is very large. A single giant is unlikely to conquer.” BingoBox “ranks No. 1 among self-service stores. The next store is too far behind us to be worth noticing.”