Lightspeed Leads $14M Round In Chinese Checkout-Free Store Xingbianli

Another Chinese copycat of Amazon Go has raised venture funding. Venture capital firm Lightspeed China Partners has led an angel round of over RMB100 million (US$14 million) in Xingbianli, a checkout-free convenience store operator that focuses on placing snack bars in offices.

A number of investors, including Zhang Tao, founder of Meituan-dianping, and Wang Xing, founder of Chinese social media platform Renren Inc., also participated in the round, according to a company announcement.

Chinese checkout-free convenience stores, including Bingobox, F5 Stores, Xiaomai, Guoxiaomei and Citybox have together raised over US$55 million in the past few months. Investors are betting on the future of "New Retail", a term popularized by Alibaba’s Jack Ma to describe the emergence of new forms of omni-channel retailing.

There were around 100,000 convenience stores in China in 2016, generating RMB130 billion (US$23 billion) in revenue. By comparison, 100,000 convenience stores in Japan generated US$64 billion in revenue last year. It is expected that the Chinese convenience store market will reach US$200 billion in the next 10 years, and new types of convenience stores like checkout-free shops and snack bars will increasingly dominate shopping districts, according to China Chain Store & Franchise Association.

"New retail is expected to have a market size of hundreds of billions of RMB. The industry requires high-quality supply chain, system and data analysis capability," said Henry Han, a partner at Lightspeed. "The new retail industry started to grow at the beginning of this year, with snacks shelves being deployed in offices, and check-out free convenience stores being established everywhere. Chinese new retail start-ups are now focusing on different sectors."

Launched just two months ago, Xingbianli has put its snack bars in a number of Chinese Internet companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., International Ltd., Baidu Inc. and China Mobile Ltd., offering goods such as instant noodle, lunchbox, juice and chips.

China Money Network Subscription