Home Times, a new furniture and decor store in Hangzhou, China, looks superficially similar to competitors like IKEA or Muji. However, the Alibaba-owned enterprise separates itself from the pack thanks not to the design of its physical space, but the design of its digital space.
Home Times offers the latest in retail technology, leveraging Alibaba's depth of experience on the cutting edge of retail. Each of the over 20,000 products on display at Home Times is paired with a QR code, and scanning that code on ones phone allows shoppers to see its name, price, and description. Further, if consumers are so inclined, they have the option to purchase the product on the spot, without having to go through checkout.
The retailer is also committed to satisfying consumer needs through the use of big data. Alibaba's B2C arm, Tmall, analyzes the behavior of consumers both in the store and within a 5-mile radius of Home Times, and it stocks based on those analyses.