E-commerce retailers geared up for a national consumption festival during the Chinese Labor Day holiday in May. Regulators launched an investigation into Tencent-backed Meituan. Seven central government agencies announced new rules for livestreamed e-commerce. JD Logistics and Alibaba-backed edtech firm Zuoyebang consider public listings.
China’s e-commerce and retail market offers a fire hose of products, choices, business models, rapidly changing content, and more. Here’s what you need to know about China’s online retail market for the week of April 21 to April 28.
May holiday consumption
The Ministry of Commerce will kick off a month-long campaign to increase consumer spending on May 1 in the hopes of boosting economic recovery amid the pandemic. Some 260 e-commerce retailers will participate in the national event including tech giants Alibaba, JD.com, Meituan, Trip.com, and ByteDance. (SCMP)
Meituan, livestream commerce probes
- The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), China’s top antitrust regulator, said in a one-line statement on Monday that is investigating food delivery leader Meituan for “forced exclusivity,” a practice in which platforms force merchants to use only one company’s platform or services. Meituan said that it would cooperate with the investigation. The Tencent-backed platform, along with 33 peers in the internet sector, had previously pledged from April 14 to 16 to comply with SAMR rules. (TechNode)
- Seven central government agencies including the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Commerce also announced new rules on April 23 governing livestreamed e-commerce that will go into effect on May 25. The regulations on livestream views and transactions, misleading marketing, and user data privacy follow a previous set of rules announced by SAMR on March 12 at the annual 315 consumer rights protection gala. (TechNode)
Funding and IPOs
- JD Logistics, the logistics arm of Chinese online retailer JD.com, will seek approval from the Hong Kong stock exchange for a public listing. The company filed its prospectus for an initial share offering on Feb. 16. JD Logistics would be JD.com’s third publicly traded unit after its healthcare arm went public in December. (IFR)
- Alibaba-backed edtech newcomer Zuoyebang may pursue a US listing as early as the third quarter of this year. The study services platform could raise over $500 million. The startup has hired a CFO from Nasdaq-listed Joyy Inc purportedly for his knowledge of the American market. (Bloomberg)
- According to Sohu Finance, Chinese supermarket chain Wumart Group submitted a prospectus to the Hong Kong stock exchange on March 29, in which it had agreed to either take an up to 2% stake in Chengxin Youxuan or buy a maximum of $100 million in shares in the Didi-owned community group-buy platform. Community group buying is a platform-based grocery service employing a network of organizers who coordinate selling products to their neighbors. By combining individual orders into bulk shipments, group-buy companies can offer lower prices to customers. (Sohu Finance, in Chinese)
- Delivery service Baishi Express hosted an internet conference in Hangzhou on April 24, where CEO Zhou Shaoning announced that the company is currently in financing discussions. He said that the quickest timeline for an IPO would be in 2022. (36kr, in Chinese)
Food delivery and grocery
- Grocery e-commerce startup MissFresh began offering its produce on the JD.com app and its offshoot JD Daojia earlier this month. In exchange for access to its marketplaces, JD will collect commissions and fees per transaction. The two platforms have the same target audience, consumers who want produce delivered to their doors. MissFresh filed a prospectus to US regulators earlier this month. (KrAsia)
- Food delivery behemoth Meituan’s new autonomous delivery vehicle commenced full operations beginning last week. The company highlighted improvements in vehicle range, storage capacity, and artificial intelligence capabilities. First trials of the vehicle began in February to minimize the need for close contact amid the pandemic. This space is one to watch as Meituan and Tsinghua University are teaming up to work on autonomous vehicle and other AI technologies, while Beijing’s city government has set aside urban districts for vehicle prototype testing. (Caixin Global)
- Alibaba’s Taobao Deals, a Pinduoduo rival, has made little progress in applying for a mini program on Tencent’s mega chatting app WeChat, according to an Alibaba executive. The executive said that Tencent has stopped testing for Taobao Deals and has not provided a timetable for the launch of the mini program. (SCMP)