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The Four Great Inventions In The Mobile Internet Era

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  • Author:KT Wu
  • Origin:Hanshow Retail Academy
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(Summary description)

The Four Great Inventions In The Mobile Internet Era

(Summary description)


In 2017, young people in China selected the Four New Great Inventions of China - high-speed rail, mobile payment, shared bicycles and online shopping – as the four things that had greatest impact to people’s lives in China. More recently, thanks to COVID-19, there has been some change to the list – now they are live streaming, short video, digital payment and takeaway platforms.


Live Streaming Ecommerce

Live streaming ecommerce integrates the unique high interactivity and real-time feedback of live stream with e-commerce, redefines shopper decision making process and reshapes core indicators such as customer flow, customer loyalty, interactivity and conversion rate. Take the example of Li Jiaqi, otherwise known as “Lipstick Brother”, one of China’s top live stream influencers. He regularly attracts several million viewers and is renowned for selling products worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in one session. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s former CEO, also participated in a lipstick selling live stream and challenged Li Jiaqi. He sold 10 lipsticks, while Li Jiaqi sold more than 1000 in one session.


                                                      Figure 1 Li Jiaqi and Jack Ma demonstrating lipsticks                                                                                     Figure 2 Live stream for Wuhan products

                                                   (From:                                          (From:



Live stream becomes an essential way to promote products (and to some degree the whole retail sector) amid the pandemic. Officials of Wuhan City even invited dozens of celebrities to carry out live streaming to promote sales of Wuhan products as transportation restrictions was lifted. In order to support Hubei Province economic recovery, China Central TV hosts conducted a live stream to sell products made in Hubei. They sold products worth 400 million yuan in 3 hours.




                                                                     Figure 3 CCTV Hosts Live Streaming Ad                                                                                      Figure 4 Dong Mingzhu, president of Gree Electric Appliances, in a live boradcast

                                                       (From:                                                                          (From t bkt=J&openid


Entrepreneurs did not hesitate to embrace live stream format. Dong-Mingzhu, president of Gree Electric Appliances, a leading Chinese home appliance company, conducted two online live broadcasts. Total sales value of her 3 live streaming sessions exceeds 1 billion RMB and there’s plan for more sessions in the near future.

Liang Jianzhang, CEO of China's largest online travel company, conducted 11 live broadcasts of different themes in different tourist destinations. In the first 10 live broadcasts, Liang Jianzhang sold 520,000 rooms for more than 230 upscale hotels.  In the 11th live broadcast, gross merchandise volume was over 10 million within 1 minute. 


                                                                                               Figure 5 Liang Jianzhang’s costumes in the first 10 live broadcasts – promoting Ctrip’s traveling products



Judging from the substantial boost to their business, it seems that CEOs in China won’t be quiting this part time job anytime soon.


Short video


Through short video apps such as Tiktok and Kwai, countless ordinary people record their own lives and share their moments with others. During the pandemic, short video platforms have become important channels for people not just to entertain but also receive information from their confinement.         



                                               Figure 6 News on COVID-19 in Tik-Tok                                                          Figure 7 Merchants doing business on Kwai

                                                           (From: Tik Tok app)                                       (From:


Short video platforms also launched preferential programs for companies to do business during the pandemic. They supported small and medium-sized merchants to create online short video or live broadcast promotion channels. Kwai, China's second-largest short video platform, launched a campaign, which eliminated fees for entrepreneurs to settle in Kwai stores and provided technical support for transactions to be made.                                                                                             


Digital payment


Contactless digital payments at the point of sale, such as facial recognition, Quick Response (QR) codes or near-field communications (NFC), can make it less likely for the virus to spread to others through cash exchanges. Relying on a robust identification system, widespread, consistent internet access and trustworthy ways to transfer money via digital formats, digital payment thrives in China and has become an essential part of everyday life.  During the coronavirus crisis, digital payments have been keeping economies running by helping people reduce physical contacts.




                                                                                      Figure 8 QRcode or ficial recognition used in markets                                                                      Figure 9 Vouchers for supermarkets and convenience stores in Wuhan

                                                       (From:                                    (From:;NTESwebSI=1114B6DAD6C71FC2A124EEF1BF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      B5DE64.hz-subscribe-web-docker-cm-online-rpqqn-8gfzd- di16l- 6785987mg4p-8081)


Online payments are even helping to put stimulus funds into consumers’ hands more rapidly. For example, local governments in China have distributed vouchers through WeChat Pay to encourage immediate spending.In order to create frictionless transactions, Alipay also cooperated with Taobao Live, a live streaming platform under Alibaba Group. Merchants can enter Taobao Live through applets in Alipay Life Account. The whole process of live streaming to promote your product, sending/receiving coupons and transactions can be completed seamlessly, all within Alipay.




Figure 10 Live stream in Alipay Life Account

   (From: Alipay app)


Takeaway Platforms


Takeaway business allows people to enjoy food without leaving home. And it takes on the important task of delivering food and other everyday needs for people amid the pandemic.  Meituan, the largest takeaway platform in China, with their massive infrastructure and front line teams, issues Safe Restaurant Identification to qualified restaurants and allowed customers to view the sanitary/cleaning measures taken by those restaurants. The process greatly enhanced consumer confidence and ensured safe meal supply during the pandemic.





Figure 11 Meituan Safe Restaurant Identification                                                                        Figure 12 Beijing Hilton Hotel takeaway  

(From:                                              (From: Meituan app)


Due to the restrictions on dining in restaurants, more restaurants started to settle in takeaway platforms and provide takeout food during the pandemic. Meituan’s data showed that within a week from February 7th to February 13th, there were 3,058 merchants who quickly started business in Meituan through their express set up channel, including some big brands and high-end restaurants that have never provided takeout food.



Figure 13 Guangzhou Restaurant’s semi- finished Cantonese takeout food                                                                 Figure 14 Shangri-la Hotel takeaway

(From:                                                                         (From:



With the overwhelming shock of COVID-19 still ravaging,we are seeing ever more important roles played by live streaming, short video, digital payment and takeaway platforms here in China.  Compared to the good old Four Great Invention of China - papermaking, compass, gunpowder and printing - who says that the New Four will have less impact to this mobile internet era?





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