I always wonder how far online retailers in China will go. Can I buy my daily necessaries (say, toilet paper) online and save the trips to the nearby supermarket ?? The answer is yes.
During the long Chines New Year holiday, I was browsing the net for fun until I found a site called, Yihaodian (http://www.yihaodian.com/), which means The No.1 Store in Chinese. Its mission is to be an online supermarket in China and toilet paper is on sale. So are oil, rice, spaghetti, vinegar, chocolate, coke, pots and pans, electronics, clothes, etc. It doesn’t have fresh fruit and vegetable, or meat yet, which I prefer to buy them in person anyway. The prices are very attractive. Just like the supermarket (a Carrefour) I go often.
Found in 2008, it currently has over 4 million customers. In total, it supplies over 50,000 different items. Apart from grocery, it has a separate site (http://www.111.com.cn/) to sell drugs. This is very thoughtful, as most supermarket in China don’t sell drugs. In China, you need special license to sell drugs, even the over-the-counter ones. Another services I appreciate is it can buy train tickets for you, too. I have tried its services and the goods arrived in 2 days – very good considering it is New Year time.
Overall, from a customer point of view, the shop has done very well. I just wonder how it is doing financially. My guess is: just like the other online retailers, it is making a loss. Perhaps huge loss, judging from the scale of operation and the thin margin of most of its merchandise. I hope it will survive . Because I don’t want to carry my own toilet paper, soya source, and so on, again.