Crossover is not just a concept for real estate companies. With the launch of many new retail projects by Ali, Jingdong and Suning, among others, a lot of leading real estate companies are also actively exploring their own "new retail" era. For real estate enterprises that seek diversified development, new retail is a historic opportunity for transformation that they don’t want to miss.
Faced with the fierce competition with e-commerce giants and traditional retailers, how can real estate enterprises that own huge resources stand out in this new field?Community Plaza, a brand of Poly Developments and Holdings, chooses the community omni-channel as an entry point and has made remarkable achievements.
As a commercial brand focusing on the community, Community Plaza has developed into an influential omni-channel platform that owns over 100 community outlets throughout the country and more than 100,000 online APP users in less than three years.When the real estate giant meets new retail, what kind of spark will be created? What problems will be encountered? Liu Dan, Deputy General Manager of the Supermarket Division of Poly Commercial Real Estate Investment Management Co., Ltd., gave answers to these questions in an interviewed with Food2China magazine (hereinafter referred to as "F2C".
F2C: Now both e-commerce and traditional retail giants are quickening their pace of expansion online and offline. Why does Community Plaza choose community retail as the entry point? Can you explain the business logic behind it?
Since its establishment, Community Plaza has taken "Warmth, Technology and Quality" as its business philosophy, hoping to create a convenient and higher-quality community life for consumers.
We know that consumers nowadays not only pay attention to the quality of goods and consumption experience, but also attach greater importance to emotional and spiritual inspiration. Products alone cannot meet the needs of consumers, so Community Plaza values emotional exchange with consumers.
The business model of Community Plaza is based on three cores: "Business, Service and Social Interaction". Within the business system of Community Plaza, customers can not only purchase products in our supermarkets, but also enjoy a great variety of community supporting services, such as catering, health, training, education and laundry. Additionally, many Community Plaza outlets also have "community space" ， so that customers can enjoy services and do shopping while experiencing different forms of community activities. The aim of Community Plaza is to meet the daily needs of community residents in an all-round way.
F2C: Why does Community Plaza take "Warmth and Convenience" as the entry point of community retail? What is the reaction of consumers?
"Warmth and Convenience" are the slogan of Community Plaza. There is the word "Community” in our brand. What we advocate is a kind of neighborhood relationship. So we pay special attention to bonding with customers in the process of service, and we enhance customer loyalty and emotional exchange through various community activities.
Whether in the online APP or offline physical outlets and community activities, we adhere to the principle of "Warmth" and "Convenience" in order to quickly meet the needs of customers and let them feel the warmth and friendship between neighbors at the same time. So we hold a great variety of community activities. For example, the "Community Space" mentioned just now is not only a place or community residents to hang out together, but also a place where thematic activities such as birthday parties, DIY kitchens, cooking trainings, flower arrangement trainings and wine classes are held every month. Through on-site experience and interaction, customers can be integrated into our business system.
F2C: What difficulties have Community Plaza encountered in the development process?
Community Plaza has encountered many difficulties in its development. At present, the most important thing is personnel training. The development of community business and new retail needs the support of talented personnel. Additionally, the demands for systems, data and logistics are continuously changing in the entire retail system, which requires the existing personnel to constantly learn new skills.
The recruitment of professional personnel is a hard problem that the entire retail industry faces. It is even harder for a company to be equipped with all kinds of suitable personnel. Compared with the traditional retail industry in which an employee only needs to do one job well, the new retail industry needs all-round staff that have the skills to work in multiple positions. So it is not practical to expect that a newly-recruited employee can do a good job right away. A new retail enterprise not only needs to recruit talented staff, but also must have the ability to train them. Community Plaza attaches great importance to personnel training, and hopes to build our own professional team for future development through cooperation with colleges.
F2C: Does Community Plaza have any plans or key development projects for the next few years?
Community Plaza now has more than 100 outlets across the country. The strategic planning for the future focuses on the Pearl River Delta region, taking Guangzhou as the core city and expanding to the first and second-tier cities around the Pearl River Delta.
In the aspect of multi-mode operation, we focus on Community Plaza Marts at present, which are 300m2-800m2 comprehensive community fresh food supermarkets.
F2C: Why do you choose fresh food supermarkets as the major focus?
We pay special attention to family consumption in the community. The consumption of a family cannot be separated from the demand for three meals a day. Fresh food occupies a very important role in family consumption, so it is a very important product category in our planning. This demonstrates the philosophy that Community Plaza is based on the community and depends on the community for development. We pay great attention to nurturing family oriented customers by listening to their demands. Compared with ordinary convenience stores or franchised stores, we prefer to do community retail business in a more diversified and comprehensive way.
F2C: That is to say, Community Plaza touches the hearts of customers, which helps Community Plaza build a business model different from those of other retailers. Is this right?
Yes. We hope that Community Plaza not only sells goods, but also forms an emotional connection with customers, so as to create a one-kilometer living space around the community, in which customers can enjoy shopping, activity, fitness, entertainment and other experiences at the Community Plaza business complex.
Warmth and Convenience run through the business philosophy of Community Plaza. Our business cannot be separated from customers in the community, especially friendly neighbors. All customers are our good partners, so we prefer to build a strong bond with customers with sincerity.