Shopping malls promote online retail business
By Ma Ke

The coronavirus epidemic has pushed people to embrace a new lifestyle and business trends. While Beijing residents are trying to stay at home as much as they can, shopping malls are getting help from online platforms to maintain their customer base.

Joy City is one of the most successful shopping mall chains in Beijing with annual sales of four billion yuan. But the epidemic has brought down expectations for the first quarter.

To help retail stores weather the impacts of the epidemic, the mall has promoted its online retail business.

Li Rui, general manager of the Joy City in Beijing's Chaoyang District, said polling shows rigid demands on life necessities, maternal and infant supplies, and light food. He said the mall has customized online projects for different types of stores.

Beauty brands and clothing shops can reach younger customers through the mall's social media accounts.

Bobbi Brown's revenue has dropped by over 90 percent since post-Spring Festival. In order to remedy the loss, the beauty brand has invited beauty bloggers to share make-up tips on platforms like TikTok and Taobao. The shop's manager said the brand's last live-streaming had about 5,000 viewers.

Clothes stores are also using online platforms to display new clothes and post sales activities.

Customers can place orders on social media platforms and watch the shops pack their orders through live-streaming.

Some of the fashion brands value online marketing even before the epidemic, and have built mature online customer base. Shop owners say this might be the reason they're surviving the sales downslide.

For food and beverage stores, another major earner for Joy City, the mall gives food safety endorsement. 

Restaurant owners say although takeout platforms also have strict disinfection requirements, the mall's double endorsement can win them extra credit.

The Manager of Chang'an Restaurant said all restaurants in the mall have to pass the mall's sanitation tests before they can take online orders. The mall will inspect the kitchens and check the temperature of personnel four times a day.”

Like Joy City, many other shopping malls in Beijing have been trying to combine online and offline business for years. And the epidemic has forced them to show results fast.

But does that mean traditional malls are finally shifting focus to e-commerce?

Li said online retail business don't mean the start of virtualization of physical stores, and the company's business philosophy is to break down the walls between online and offline scenarios, and to increase the costumer flow.

He added that keeping in touch with the customer base can also help shopping malls quickly regain vitality when the epidemic is over.