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China Daily Global / 2020-03 / 26 / Page004

Bookstores take a leaf out of food delivery app

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-03-26 00:00

BEIJING-A total of 72 brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing have joined up with the Meituan Dianping food delivery service to try to mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A Beijing resident among the first customers received his book from a deliveryman about 30 minutes after he placed the order on the Meituan app.

It was the first sale for the Rongke branch of Zhongshuge Bookstore since the chain bookstore brand closed all its stores on Feb 1.

The temporary closure of Zhongshuge is not an individual case. About 80 percent of brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing have been closed due to the epidemic.

A survey conducted by the Beijing Institute of Culture Innovation and Communication, found 48.4 percent of 248 bookstores said their cash reserve can only last one to three months, while 27.4 percent said their cash reserve can only last for one month.

According to the Zhongshuge Bookstore's Rongke branch, its customer flow in February last year was about 3,000 people a day.

This year, due to the closure of the store and the lack of alternative sales channels, its sales revenue plunged to zero last month.

The Guomao branch of the Jianshe Bookstore said customer traffic has dropped by more than 80 percent during the epidemic.

Brick-and-mortar bookstores once relied heavily on social gatherings to generate sales, but they are now moving to fresh approaches such as livestreaming and online sales.

Beijing authorities have coordinated with Meituan to help the food delivery app provide an online sales platform and improve book deliveries. The food delivery platform promised to waive service fees and provide operational guidance and other support for bookstores to help them speed up the transition.

Meituan also simplified procedures for a bookstore to use the platform. It only takes a day for a bookstore to open an online store on the Meituan app.

"Many books do not have e-book versions. If there is a need to find information, there is no solution when bookstores are closed," one Beijing customer said. "The 'takeout' service of books helps solve the problem."


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