Photo taken on May 8, 2020 shows a flower grower promoting fresh flowers he raised via livestreaming during a flower exhibition in Baoshan district of Shanghai. (Photo by Yang Jianzheng/People’s Daily Online)

By Ji Juesu, Cao Lingjuan, People’s Daily

Spreading batter, adding egg, brushing sauce, and packing, a Chinese chef surnamed Gao finished making an appetizing jianbingguozi, a popular Chinese pancake, in less than two minutes.

Gao handed the jianbingguozi to his assistant, who glanced at the computer screen and then put the food into one of the containers of a thermal cabinet.

After no more than one minute, the food was taken by a man surnamed Li who had just came out of the subway and scanned a QR code on the cabinet.

The above happened at a store of Hexiaoma in Shanghai, a breakfast store of Alibaba’s grocery chain Hema Xiansheng. The store is located at the B2 floor of a shopping mall near an exit of the World Expo Museum Station of Line 13 of the Shanghai Metro in Huangpu district.

Consisting of a breakfast stall and an automatic thermal cabinet, the store sells breakfast on site and also allows consumers to place orders online.

“I placed the order two stops in advance, so I got my steaming breakfast when I just arrived at the store,” said Li.

“It’s so convenient. Now I can enjoy freshly made breakfast even if I slept a little longer in the morning,” he added.

In recent years, Shanghai has grasped the opportunities generated by the booming internet economy and enabled the over 20 million residents in the megacity to enjoy a wonderful and convenient life benefited by flourishing online platforms and ever-changing modern technologies.

“The blue marks indicate the real-time position of the couriers, while the yellow ones are their next destinations. The red marks suggest delivery delays,” Li Wei, a staff member of e-commerce grocery platform Dingdong Maicai, introduced to People’s Daily, pointing to an electronic map. More than 200 marks are distributed within a 3-kilometer radius on the map.

Li, who is in charge of a distribution center of the platform on Songhong Road of Shanghai’s Changning district, couldn’t take his eyes off the map as a rain was about to drop at 10:00 am that day and lunch orders were flocking in. At the same time, 11 sorters were busy packing while 17 deliverymen were rushing in the rain to send products to the customers.

“Hello, we are sorry to tell you that your vegetables might arrive five minutes late because of the heavy rain,” Wang Yaxu, a deliveryman of the distribution center explained to a client over the phone as the delivery time of the order was about to exceed the 29-minute time limit promised by the platform.

“That’s all right. Be careful on the road,” said the customer, a woman surnamed Chen who had shift grocery shopping to the online platform after the COVID-19 outbreak.

In fact, Chen had doubted whether it was a good idea to buy vegetables online at first, for she thought it would be much better to make a purchase after comparing the goods on site like she had done over the past decades.

To her surprise, the online grocery shopping was quite satisfying, and she soon became a loyal customer of the platform.

“I like cooking carp and bean curd soup, so I need fresh fish. The three carp I ordered were kept in a tank with oxygen pump when they were delivered to me, and they were still lively when I put them into my basin,” Chen introduced.

“Dingdong Maicai became a black horse in the field of grocery e-commerce since February with a revenue of more than 1.2 billion yuan (about $173 million),” Liang Changlin, founder and CEO of the platform told People’s Daily.

Liang, who has operated the platform for over two years in Shanghai, once planned to spend a year on market cultivation, but his target was achieved in just over a month.

Shanghai’s online transaction of grocery products totaled 17.48 billion yuan during the first half of this year, up 138.8 percent from a year ago.

Changes not only happened in the way of grocery shopping.

After attracting a great number of leading e-commerce enterprises, Shanghai rolled out a series of Internet-based shopping activities to further give play to major platforms.

Empowered by the city’s dynamic digital transformation, many brick-and-mortar businesses have also tapped into online platforms and launched cloud-based activities, including online shopping events, exhibitions, and shows.

With enormous potential for rapid growth, consumer-oriented services are growing into an important engine for e-commerce businesses in Shanghai, said Zhou Lan, deputy head of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The online transactions for goods totaled 311.6 billion yuan in Shanghai during the first six months this year, marking a 14.3-percent growth from the same period of the previous year, according to Zhou.

Photo shows customers scanning QR code to take meals from a thermal cabinet of a Hexiaoma store in Shanghai, July 20. (Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily Online)

Photo shows a staff member of Hexiaoma helping a woman take meal from a thermal cabinet of a Hexiaoma store in Shanghai, July 20. (Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily Online)

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