In a rush? In this Chinese tech hub you can hail a mobile convenience store

Fleet of converted taxis hits streets of southern megacity as latest example of country’s hi-tech consumer economy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 4:33pm

A Chinese tech start-up has transformed 400 taxis in southern China into mobile convenience stores to cater to the needs of the city’s busy residents.

Passengers in Shenzhen in Guangdong province can now do their shopping in the vehicles, which sell items such as drinks, snacks, umbrellas, raincoats and power banks, news website Oeeee.com reported on Tuesday.

“It’s a novelty to see so many snacks in a taxi,” one white-collar worker told the site.

In keeping with the city’s reputation as a tech hub, she ordered the snack by scanning a bar code and then paid using the WeChat payment app on her phone.

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The report said the self-employed drivers buy the goods from a supplier, paying about 200 yuan (US$32) for each shelf of items. The drivers make a profit of about 15 per cent due to price mark-ups on the goods.

The business is the latest example of China’s booming technology-driven consumer economy.

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E-commerce giants such as JD.com and Alibaba, the owner of the South China Morning Post, plan to set up hundreds of self-serve convenience stores and thousands of vending machines across the country, with shoppers paying through mobile payment wallets on their phones.

But some of Shenzhen’s cab drivers were sceptical about the benefits of this latest venture.

One, surnamed Li, told the website: “The car is small and why do I have to sell goods through a third party?”