Having recently visited Hangzhou, the city in mainland China home to Alibaba, I was completely taken aback by the application of consumer technology.
A few highlights:
And yes, they are as cool as they sound. Check out this 2 minute video explaining how the Hema ‘Robotic Restaurant’ is transforming the dinning experience.
Didi Chauffeur. Think Uber, except your driver turns up on a fold-up bicycle. How is this helpful exactly? Well, if you find yourself over the limit after a few drinks, book yourself a Didi Chauffeur and your on-demand designated driver will get you (and your car!) home safely.
What I had not anticipated was the overwhelming use of mobile payments. Society in Hangzhou is completely cash and card free. All transactions whether paying for breakfast, parking, bubble tea, or anything else for that matter is done over mobile. Even beggars have adopted this trend and gone cashless.
Reading about the rise of mobile payments in China, its interesting to observe how rapidly this transformation has occurred. Alipay, boasting 54% market share for mobile payments, already has an active user-base of 870 million, making part of the $16tn market.
Research from Kantar found 96% of Chinese consumers have used a mobile payment app in the past six months. Moreover, that 85% of those select mobile payment as the most preferred mobile payment method.
When it comes driving rapid tech adoption, there are a number of factors essential for achieving the change. Sure, infrastructure is key, and certainly the fast penetration of smartphones and widespread internet access played a pivotal role in the growth of China's mobile payment market.
In our experience at Passle working with some of the largest tech, professional services, and consultancy firms in the world, when it comes to rolling out a new piece of technology at scale you also need to have the right mentality.
Comparing China's adoption of mobile payments (using tech like Alipay & WeChat) to deploying Passle across your organisation, we find the following similarities key to driving end-user behaviour:
Objective - have a goal that relates to scale. The quote below highlights that Alibaba's approach to transformation is focused on the masses, not incrementally moving the needle.
Convenience - managing any element of behavioural change requires convenience. If it is not easy to do, then it won't happen.
Planning - do not run before you walk. Build a plan around your objectives and then use momentum to execute at scale.
Leadership - get senior leaders involved, and do it early. If people see their peers advocating and engaging, then they are much more likely to follow trend.
Knowledge - if people do not understand the 'how' or 'why' then you need to educate. Include this as you shape your deployment plan.
Feedback - communicate success. Do this consistently to showcase impact.
Zhang noted that Alibaba doesn’t intend to operate a large grocery chain. As with Alibaba’s investments in the Intime department store chain, the aim is to create showcases that demonstrate the benefits of “New Retail” to customers and other businesses that want to digitally transform themselves. E-commerce currently accounts for around 15% of total retail in China. Alibaba has said its goal is not to make incremental progress on that 15%, but to digitally transform the 85%.