A big-hearted, small-sized business success story
NANJING, China, Mar. 26, 2021 – On March 20, 2021, Suning.com (002024.SZ), China’s leading smart retail service provider and a Fortune Global 500 company owned by Suning Group, opened its inaugural Suning Retail Cloud furniture and household goods shopfront in Jintan District, Changzhou, a prosperous city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.
(The inaugural Suning Retail Cloud furniture and household goods shopfront opened in Jinan District, Changzhou, a prosperous city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.)
As an important business sector that aims to help micro and small business merchants thrive in lower-tier cities and county-level markets in China, Suning Retail Cloud was officially launched in July 2017. With the franchise model, Suning Retail Cloud leverages Suning.com’s retail capabilities and deep industry know-how especially in logistics, warehouse, supply chain and technology innovations to franchisees and help micro and small merchants in county-level markets to easily start a business.
The move marks Suning’s first step into the furniture and household goods market and supports micro and small business owners to thrive in lower-tier cities and county-level markets in China. Suning’s first Retail Cloud store in the furniture and household goods category is owned by Chen Yun, an entrepreneur who chose to return to his hometown to start a business. In 2010, Chen first became associated with Suning during his move to Suzhou, a prosperous city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province and quickly signed on as a Suning partner.
Chen recalls how Jintan used to be in the 1980s – an obscure, tiny county affiliated to Changzhou city. But by 2015, Jintan was developing rapidly bringing with it massive opportunities which gave Chen, who was working hard in Suzhou, the exciting idea of returning home to start his own business as he had always wanted.
When Suning launched its Retail Cloud project in 2017, Chen jumped at the opportunity. “Suning Retail Cloud turned out to be the best possible way to help me to build my business”, said Chen. “I believe that we as businesspeople need to be genuine. People can see through fakeness so the most important thing is to make customers feel comfortable enough that they can put their trust in you as a small business owner. Small touches, like excellent after-sales services, mean that word-of-mouth recommendations from my customers are by far the best way to gain more trust.”
This caring philosophy seems to have worked. Since opening, Chen has seen massive success with overall sales exceeding RMB500,000, almost half of which was generated from furniture and household goods. His profits have already paid for 6 months’ worth of rent for his store bringing more income stability and peace of mind for his business.
(Chen Yun, the owner of the store, jumped on the economic opportunity of Changzhou city and returned to his hometown to start a business.)
From kitchen appliances to furniture and other home and bathroom products, a market centered around the home is rapidly taking shape. Suning Retail Cloud empowers top furniture brands to tap into customers from counties and lower-tier cities who are looking for upgrades, while empowering micro and small business owners like Chen to thrive.
Chen Yun’s business story also reflects Suning Retail Cloud’s business model: The space has expanded from small-town markets to larger county-level markets; services – online and offline – have become more extensive with more depth; home appliances are at the core with the home furnishing category expanding. The boundaries of retail have been broken down and the value of the platform is being maximized.
Unlocking the boundless potential of the furniture and household goods market
In China’s counties and lower-tier cities, the furniture category has been earmarked as an opportunity for new growth; yet the industry faces a number of developmental challenges, ranging from inadequate scenario-based marketing to weak sales expertise. Suning Retail Cloud tackles these pain points with its strong retail capabilities, to drive users and traffic, and deep industry know-how – particularly in logistics, warehouse, supply chain and technology innovations.
In a joint effort to establish a new standard for furniture and household goods in counties and lower-tier cities, Suning Retail Cloud and furniture manufacturers have partnered together to launch customized products that are appropriate for the local market. At the same time, franchisees receive support with standardized displays, operations, training, logistics and post-sales fulfilment to enhance the store’s professional appearance and help merchants get started, even if they have no prior experience in the industry.
Creating a new benchmark for smart retail in the furniture market
Unlike home appliances, China’s furniture industry remains small and fragmented, and purchasing furniture from top brands is a costly endeavor. Small workshops and self-employed individuals remain the driving force of the market and, as a result, traditional furniture retail requires extensive digital transformation. Backed by the mature resources and capabilities of Suning, franchise partners can tap into the Retail Cloud model to transform their business and increase revenue.
According to Zhanghui, Assistant to the President of the Suning Retail Cloud Business Segment, the company’s Retail Cloud will focus on the development strategy of “1+X” to create a one-stop shop for furniture and household goods across the dining room, bedroom and bathroom scenarios. Supported by Suning’s strong partnerships with CHEERS, Kuka, Wrigley and other brands, Retail Cloud stores break free from the boundaries of the traditional home appliance and 3C category; instead, leveraging physical stores to launch new home and bathroom products.
Suning Retail Cloud has over 8,000 stores in counties and lower-tier cities across the country as of March 2021. Meanwhile, Suning.com has made an initial goal of building 12,000 Retail Cloud stores by the end of 2021.