Inkstone
    Mar
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    Come quickly! China launches 30-minute condom delivery service
    Come quickly! China launches 30-minute condom delivery service
    BUSINESS

    Come quickly! China launches 30-minute condom delivery service

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    Amazon Prime’s same-day delivery service has changed the way Americans shop.

    But sometimes, not even same-day delivery will cut it.

    Not when you’re trying to keep the romantic mood alive.

    That’s why an online Chinese supermarket is delivering condoms to your door – in just 30 minutes.

    Hema, a supermarket chain under Chinese tech giant Alibaba (which also owns Inkstone), has launched an “adult channel” on its mobile app, promising to deliver adult products ranging from condoms to vibrators within half an hour.

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    Customers in Shanghai are among the first to be able to use the service. Some 700 adult products are now on offer, with more than 50 being available for the express delivery service.

    Before its official launch, the chain completed a three-month trial period. The results they’ve disclosed offer a rare glimpse into the sex lives of the Chinese population.

    Another hit item.
    Another hit item. Photo: Shutterstock

    The most popular products? Condoms, lube – and pregnancy tests.

    When you gotta know, you gotta know.  

    Sexual revolution

    The results have found that people aged 40 to 49 are the biggest spenders.

    Sexologist Li Yinhe isn't too surprised by this result. “Those in their 40s have very different perceptions of sex from the older generations. The country was opening up when they were teenagers, so their views on sex are not as rigid. The time of abstinence was over, and women started to understand sexual pleasure.”

    Group 5
    The time of abstinence was over, and women started to understand sexual pleasure
    -
    Sexologist Li Yinhe

    The initial results from the trial period also show that women do not shy away from buying adult products for themselves.

    About 63 percent of egg vibrators were purchased by women; the most popular lubricant among women is four times more expensive than the no.1 among men; and women are prone to purchasing flavored massage oils and condoms.

    Vibrators are popular among the ladies.
    Vibrators are popular among the ladies. Photo: K-Y

    The adult product market in China is huge. The nation’s e-commerce market for adult goods reached an estimated $3 billion in 2017, and is predicted to more than triple to $9.4 billion by 2020.

    All new retail

    Adult products are only a small part of Hema's offering. The chain also offers a wide selection of fresh food, ranging from oranges to king crabs.

    Hema is considered a crucial part of Alibaba's “New Retail” strategy, which combines both online and offline shopping.

    The supermarket promises to deliver within 30 minutes, as long as the delivery address is within a 3km (1.9 mile) radius of the nearest store. There are 37 stores in nine cities, and more are on the way.

    Hema supermarket promises to deliver adult products ranging from condoms to vibrators within half an hour.
    Hema supermarket promises to deliver adult products ranging from condoms to vibrators within half an hour. Photo: Alibaba

    Meanwhile, any purchases made in-store can be cooked up by the on-site chefs.

    “The 3km-radius for each store is considered a ‘life zone’ where Alibaba can provide all the goods, services and products one needs to live a convenient life,” explains Michael Zakkour, vice president of China Market Strategy and Global eCommerce at Tompkins International. “All of this is tied into their online platforms and their investment in food delivery apps and department stores.”

    The 30-minute delivery time is the shortest in China today, but JD.com, the country’s second-largest e-commerce site after Alibaba, is also creating a network of convenience and grocery stores, says Zakkour.

    Both Alibaba and the US-based Amazon are moving in a similar direction, combining their online retail expertise with brick-and-mortar stores. While Alibaba is expanding its Hema supermarkets, Amazon has bought Whole Foods, and is opening Amazon Go convenience stores and new bookstores.

    The two giants enjoy different advantages, though. “Alibaba is ahead in terms of creating a more integrated consumer experience. Amazon has a much more extensive global selling and fulfilment reach,” says Zakkour.

    Still, nothing says “global fulfilment” like 30-minute condom delivery. 

    Grace Tsoi
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    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
    Grace Tsoi
    arrow rightarrow right
    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
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