Hema Fresh or Freshippo, a supermarket chain under the Alibaba banner, opened its first ‘black label’ high-end store in Shanghai on 27th September.
Modelling itself after established high-end supermarkets like Olé, Freshippo Premier aims to diversify its clientele beyond just the upper middle-class. Peng Xi, the Chief Designer of the black label store explains: ‘We don’t want to pigeonhole the customer base of a store by income. […] The black label store wants to attract those who like shopping, love food and value a healthy lifestyle.’
Rather than solely focusing on imported goods, Freshippo Premier divides its attention to 50% imports and 50% domestic, which includes Hema’s own brand, third-party brands and local produce from in and around Shanghai. As the shop opened before the Mid-Autumn Festival on 29th September, local delicacies like crabs and dried goods were particularly popular.
As for imported goods, plenty of sampling and smaller portions give the customers an opportunity to try things out. With a circular store layout that encourages wandering, in-app and WeChat mini program checkout, Freshippo Premier aims to provide a pleasant experience for shoppers.
After Alibaba was split into 6 more autonomous subdivisions earlier this year, rumours have been circulating around Hema’s initial public offering (IPO). Hema founder and CEO Hou Yi announced this January that in 2022 the supermarket had turned a profit for the first time after 7 years. After opening 8 ‘Store X’ member’s shops last year taking aim at Sam’s Club, this new black label shop can be seen as another aggressive upward extension from Hema.