Feb 3, 2021|
In-depth Report: How SEVEN FRESH Brings Spring Festival Cuisine to Consumers
by Hui Zhang
Many Chinese people are choosing to stay in the cities where they work during the upcoming Chinese New Year, which falls on February 12 this year, amid a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. For most Chinese, celebrating spring festival with family over a big meal of nearly ten courses is a tradition. This year, those who won’t be traveling to their hometowns may already be worrying about how to enjoy the gourmet feast they had been looking forward to for many months. Fortunately, JD’s offline fresh supermarket SEVEN FRESH can provide a solution to their concerns.
Leveraging its supply chain advantage and partnership with well-known offline restaurants and chefs, SEVEN FRESH is providing not only fresh ingredients, but also a wide range of meals for customers, including ready-to-cook meal gift boxes and meal packages. The selections include ready-to-cook local specialties from all around China, such as steamed “eight treasure rice” from Zhejiang, sausage from Guangdong and lamb chops from Beijing.
SEVEN FRESH, as one of JD’s key omnichannel retail initiatives, was launched in 2018 and has positioned itself as a high-end offline retail supermarket. Each offline store has thousands of products covering food, fresh, FMCG and more. The first SEVEN FRESH store in Beijing has won great attention with a daily average number of visitors totaling more than 10,000 during its test run.
One of the key factors behind the success of the supermarket chain is its access to multiple supply chain networks. Thanks to JD’s supply chain, SEVEN FRESH can select products from JD’s partners for a wider variety of products to meet consumers’ needs. Additionally, SEVEN FRESH’s self-developed supply chain provides in-store food and beverage products made by itself. Finally, the supermarket chain also benefits from localized supply, which refers to local products, especially fresh produce. As a result, SEVEN FRESH maintains introducing 50% of new SKUs every year to keep commodities flexible and fresh.
Supply Chain Behind SEVEN FRESH
A mature and complete supply chain system can ensure the stable supply of fresh products, reduce the pressure of warehousing and transportation, and also cut down on unnecessary costs and losses. Thanks to JD ‘s overall logistics capability and cold chain warehousing system, SEVEN FRESH can offer a stable supply of Feitian Moutai (53-percent alcohol) that is super hot on the market. Many fruits that have never been seen in other supermarkets are available here, and 20% of the products in SEVEN FRESH’s first store in Beijing were imported. JD’s overseas sourcing supply chain has been applied to SEVEN FRESH, which has greatly reduced the cost of manpower and material resources.
In terms of SEVEN FRESH’s self-developed supply chain, SEVEN FRESH firmly believes that what distinguishes it from traditional supermarkets is its ability to meet consumers’ eating habits and bring them products that well suit their tastes.
In order to bring consumers local food in line with their tastes, SEVEN FRESH has introduced various localized products and well-known brands based on an analysis of consumers in and around the city where each store is located. In addition, SEVEN FRESH has also hired local chefs to ensure that consumers can have a taste of authentic local cuisine inside the supermarket.
For example, SEVEN FRESH opened a store in Huizhou, Guangdong province, on Sept. 22, 2019. The store reallocated meat, poultry, eggs and vegetables in accordance with the eating and consumption habits of local people, and directly worked with local produce brands including Guangzhou Restaurant. Established in 1935, Guangzhou Restaurant is famous for its Cantonese cuisine and mid-autumn mooncakes, and is known as “the best restaurant in Guangzhou”. The new store introduced Qingyuan chicken, a local free range chicken that has been recommended and highlighted by National Geographic of China, after SEVEN FRESH found chicken to be the most important ingredient for local daily diet. All Qingyuan chickens are directly sourced from farms to bring peace of mind for consumers.
As a city famous for having various delicacies, Huizhou’s residents not only have high requirements for ingredients, but also attach much attention to the flavors. In order to cater to the tastes of local consumers, SEVEN FRESH hired chefs from well-known local restaurants to bring consumers the most authentic local flavor. Guangdong people have a fondness for roasted marinated meat, so Seven Fresh has added local traditional roasted marinated meat dishes, such as white cut chicken, salt-baked chicken, marinated duck and other common marinated meat dishes commonly found on Huizhou people’s dinner tables, as well as roasted duck freshly made by SEVEN FRESH’s chefs to bring the familiar flavors to local people.
In terms of localized supply chain, the purchasing mode of fresh products in traditional supermarkets did not fully consider the origin and planting time of fruits and vegetables. It is very likely that fruits and vegetables might not arrive at a traditional supermarket until 3-4 days after picking, which means their freshness and quality cannot be guaranteed, resulting in rotten leaves and fruits. This not only negatively impacts the consumers’ shopping experience, but also damages the reputation of the supermarket.
Faced with this procurement challenge, SEVEN FRESH built a localized fresh supply chain that eliminates middlemen, and directly works with farmers to ensure fresh products can be sent to SEVEN FRESH from their origin. In this new system SEVEN FRESH places orders from the vegetable and fruit farm every afternoon, and the farm begins picking and packaging the produce after receiving the orders. All the fresh produce will be delivered to SEVEN FRESH stores overnight, and will be ready by the next day at around 4 am.
Experienced Chefs to Guarantee Tastes
SEVEN FRESH not only brings fresh ingredients for consumers, but also brings authentic on-site processed delicacies for consumers. These delicacies are loved by consumers, and the magic behind the delicacies are experienced chefs hired by SEVEN FRESH to make it easy for consumers at both home and work to enjoy delicacies that used to be only available in restaurants. One of these chefs is Wang Feng, who is mainly responsible for the research and development of stewed dishes.
Wang comes from a family of gourmet chefs, and his grandfather and father have worked as chefs all their lives. Wang’s grandfather came to Beijing from Shandong province to work as a chef before 1949. He worked as a chef in Bejing’s well-known time-honored restaurant Badalou (八大楼) to serve the ex-royal family members of Qing Dynasty. His authentic Shandong cuisine was popular among them. Wang’s father, who worked at Fengzeyuan (丰泽园), also mentored many famous chefs of younger generation. Wang has learned not only the special cooking methods of various dishes from his grandfather and father, but also their persistence in creating good food.
“When I came to SEVEN FRESH for a job interview, I found that the creed that SEVEN FRESH adheres to is the same as my own, which is to offer consumers delicacies that are both delicious and healthy. Learning this convinced me to join SEVEN FRESH,” said Wang.
Wang is mainly responsible for the research and development of stewed and fried dishes . One of the offered dishes, the roast chicken with various flavors, was developed under the leadership of Wang and is very popular among consumers. In order to standardize the flavor of the roast chicken, it took him more than a month to study the recipe and 20 rounds of changes back and forth from the selection of chicken, improving the cooking process, and repeatedly asking the tasting team to check the flavor. Wang integrates his family’s understanding of delicious food into his current work, hoping that through his own effort and the resources offered by SEVEN FRESH, he can enable more and more consumers to eat delicious and healthy food.
“We have always adhered to the idea of bringing the best quality products that are also good for consumers’ health when we’re developing new stewed products,” Wang said. “We insist on using the best ingredients.”
Leveraging JD’s omnichannel experience, all SEVEN FRESH stores can provide doorstep delivery service to customers nearby in as fast as 30 minutes. As a result of SEVEN FRESH, consumers will not find it difficult to enjoy a big, delicious feast similar to the ones they might have had in their hometowns during Chinese New Year.
To ensure the livelihoods of many in the face of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, JD’s SEVEN FRESH in Beijing and Hebei have increased inventory of daily necessities by 300%. Furthermore, the delivery services have been expanded to more areas, enabling more customers to receive products in a timely fashion.