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How this Alibaba executive has wired up more than one million Chinese mom-and-pop stores

How this Alibaba executive has wired up more than one million Chinese mom-and-pop stores
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


There are over six million mom-and-pop stores in China, and despite the growth of e-commerce, they still represent 50% of retail sales of consumer packaged goods in the country. But it’s an analog business. Sub-distributors mark up prices. Major CPG brands, meanwhile, struggle to connect with these stores, and middlemen often make their products too expensive for sellers. As a 21-year veteran of Procter & Gamble China, Kevin Lin experienced this firsthand. After joining Alibaba in 2016, he created a solution. Ling Shou Tong (translation: “integrated retail”) digitizes the supply chain to these corner stores and lets them order via app through Ali­­b­aba, which works with brands to create affordable products. Lin’s solution gives Alibaba insights into local, offline buying, and Lin shares e-commerce data with mom-and-pop sellers so they know which types of products their customers crave. “Every time a store owner opens the app,” Lin says, “we’re able to recommend products based on the needs of consumers within 300 meters.” More than one million of these shops have signed on, along with more than 75% of large CPG brands operating in China. In the past year, Lin has tripled Ling Shou Tong’s business.

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