China has a supermarket unlike anything in the US

Alibaba is expanding Hema, a chain of cashless supermarkets.
The stores are sprawling and offer a giant selection of fresh food, including seafood that shoppers can select and send to the kitchen to be cooked before the end of their trip.

Shoppers can also order groceries online for delivery in under 30 minutes.

Customers use their smartphones to shop and pay for their groceries at Hema.

HemaAlibaba

The biggest e-commerce company in China, Alibaba, is growing a chain of cashless supermarkets unlike anything in the US. The chain, called Hema, will double its locations in China to nearly 60 this year.

Shoppers use their phones to pay for food at Hema, much like at Amazon’s new cashierless stores,Amazon Go.

But Hema also has two other key services: chefs that will cook shoppers‘ groceries on demand, and couriers that deliver online orders in under 30 minutes.

Here’s what Hema is like.

Hema is a sprawling supermarket that is primarily focused on fresh foods like meat, seafood, vegetables, and fruit, as well as prepared foods.

Hema is a sprawling supermarket that is primarily focused on fresh foods like meat, seafood, vegetables, and fruit, as well as prepared foods.Alibaba

The market has a giant seafood selection where customers can select their own seafood and send it to the kitchen to be cooked before they leave the store.

The market has a giant seafood selection where customers can select their own seafood and send it to the kitchen to be cooked before they leave the store.Alibaba

Customers can also bag their seafood and take it home raw to cook themselves, or have it delivered to their homes within 30 minutes.

Customers can also bag their seafood and take it home raw to cook themselves, or have it delivered to their homes within 30 minutes.Alibaba

For customers who choose to dine at the store, there is a large area that can seat about 100 people.

For customers who choose to dine at the store, there is a large area that can seat about 100 people.Alibaba

Everything in Hema has a barcode, which shoppers can scan to trace the product’s origin, delivery, and nutritional information.

Everything in Hema has a barcode, which shoppers can scan to trace the product's origin, delivery, and nutritional information.Alibaba

The Hema app suggests recipes and similar products based on what customers scan.

The Hema app suggests recipes and similar products based on what customers scan.Alibaba

If customers don’t want to visit the store, they can order anything from Hema on the chain’s app.

If customers don't want to visit the store, they can order anything from Hema on the chain's app.Alibaba

The stores double as warehouses for online orders. Hema employees fulfill the orders by picking and packing them in reusable bags, right alongside customers.

The stores double as warehouses for online orders. Hema employees fulfill the orders by picking and packing them in reusable bags, right alongside customers.Alibaba

Employees then drop off the bags on a conveyer belt that runs up the wall of the store to the ceiling.

Employees then drop off the bags on a conveyer belt that runs up the wall of the store to the ceiling.Alibaba

Then the bags travel over customers‘ heads to an adjacent delivery hub.

Then the bags travel over customers' heads to an adjacent delivery hub.Alibaba

Deliveries are shipped out to customers within 30 minutes of their initial order.

Deliveries are shipped out to customers within 30 minutes of their initial order.Alibaba

A single Hema store fulfills thousands of online orders per day.

A single Hema store fulfills thousands of online orders per day.Alibaba

If customers are shopping in stores, they can check out using their smartphones or head to a facial recognition kiosk.

If customers are shopping in stores, they can check out using their smartphones or head to a facial recognition kiosk.Alibaba

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