32 popular online stores open physical shops in Weidian Park
2019-08-24 Source:Hangzhou China

The Gonglian City Centre of the Hubin lakeside business area has recently opened a food court for popular online stores. Gonglian, which has initially introduced 32 stores for the space, charges no rents.

Stores pay Gonglian 15% of their turnover

Shortest lease is a week

Taking the Exit D of Hangzhou Metro Line 1’s Long Xiang Qiao Station, visitors can go directly to the underground floor of Gonglian. The food court on the floor now has 32 popular online stores and is named “Weidian Park.”

As an innovative neighbourhood commercial project of Weidian Group, Weidian Park covers a floor area of 2,000 sqm. Weidian picked the site, did the renovation and provide the facilities for the restaurants, which instead of paying rent, hand in 15% of their turnover. The shortest lease is only a week. The model is thus called by some “WeWork for restaurants.”

Ai Wen, owner of an oden restaurant, said he opened the store on Jul 31. Ai works full-time as a product director of a company, but comes to help out during the peak hours every day from his office in the Intime Department Store in the west part of the city. Xiaobulala, owner of the Wild Chicken from Cloud Bamboo Mountain restaurant, is vlogging with her five-month-old baby. “The chickens for our 28 RMB Cold Noodle with Shredded Chicken dish are raised in mountains of Lin’an. Many guests want not only our noodles but also the chickens, … We can sell about 100 bowls of noodles every day,” said Xiaobulala. 

“I have a two-week lease with Weidian and I want to use this chance to communicate with my fans,” said Chi Xiaoxi, who was born in 1990s and started his own business in Mount Changbai after resigning from Changchun TV Station in 2016. The slogan for his store is “Traveling 1,600km here for you.” His store sells popular foods from his online store on Weidian, including Naengmyeon, flavored beef tendons, coarse grain pancakes, and pine nuts. “Everything was sold out except for the last pack of beef tendons by last night. I wanted to use it for today’s vlogging, but a guest returned and bought it,” said Chi.

Can it be a sample of the city’s neighborhood commercial projects?

The 32 stores were selected from over 1,000 food stores and restaurants in China. Some of them prefer long-term engagement like Ai Wen, while others only want a short-term lease.

“We’ve tested the food court for two weeks, and popular stores generate CNY 3,000-4,000 turnover each day,” said a manager with Weidian. The project, which is dedicated to supporting small businesses, is different from previous physical stores opened by e-commerce platforms. It’s more like a shared space for stores, “whether you sold stuff online or offline, you are supposed to get pretty nice ROI from Weidian Park, as long as your stuff fits the niche market with innovations,” the manager said.

“We often set up stalls at various marketplaces, which generate a lot of traffic online. Stores, big or small, saw our stalls and decided to talk to us on cooperation,” said Ms. Fang on open a store at Weidian Park, who started her own snack business when she was a college student and now her company has 10 workers. 

The membership benefits of Weidian app is also available for visitors to Weidian Park. And they can always order online for anything they tasted at the stores. Weidian Park will update its service model every week based on the data generated from the stores, providing a new experience for visitors. 

Is the “Hangzhou sample” of neighbourhood commercial projects going to work in an ear of rising rental costs, more expensive data and marketing-driven consumption? the market and customers will have their answer. 

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