Intelligent markets make shopping more convenient

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A man scans a QR code to buy meat in a farmers' market in Xiangzhou district, Xiangyang, central China's Hubei province. (Photo by Yang Dong/People's Daily)
A man scans a QR code to buy meat in a farmers' market in Xiangzhou district, Xiangyang, central China's Hubei province. (Photo by Yang Dong/People's Daily)

By Li Xueqin

Farmers’ markets across China are becoming smart and digital thanks to the development of 5G, big data, Internet of Things and other technologies.

Digital displays, intelligent electronic scales, and QR codes that can track agricultural products’ origins are easily seen in today’s Chinese farmers’ markets. What’s more, farmers are even selling vegetables on livestream platforms.

The application of tech devices makes the operation and management of farmers’ markets more intelligent, and also brings more convenience to the customers.

At the entrance of a market in Jiangbei district, Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, there is a screen that displays vegetable prices, real-time transaction data, foot traffic and testing results of vegetables.

“These new technologies make information opener and more transparent, so the shopping experience is better,” said a woman surnamed Hou who lives near the market.

In a farmers’ market in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, customers are given a payment receipt after each purchase, which is printed with a QR code. Once they find the products they have bought are of poor quality or have other safety issues, they can scan the code and trace the origins of the products on the market’s information system or other platforms.

Liu Dacheng, deputy director of the Institute of Internet Industry, Tsinghua University, told People’s Daily that the environment and experience of grocery shopping are being constantly improved from the streetside stalls and traditional farmers’ markets to the emerging intelligent markets.

Digital technologies ensure better food security, Liu said, adding that the intelligent upgrading of markets not only lifts customer satisfaction, but also facilitates the daily operation of merchants.

Guided by big data, greengrocer Xu hangbin and his wife in Wuchang district, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, placed kiwifruits, a hot seller, in the most conspicuous place of their fruit shop.

According to the couple, greengrocers can upload their sales data to a management platform of the market, and the system then ranks the best-selling items in a real-time manner.

Xu said he uses the platform every day, as it helps him know which fruits are selling well, so that he can promptly replenish his stock.

Merchants across China are actively employing various digital methods to contribute to the intelligent upgrading and transformation of farmers’ markets.

For instance, a market on Luban Road in Huangpu district, Shanghai, has set up a membership mechanism and developed a WeChat mini-program that integrates local providers of consumer services, to create a 15-minute community life circle. The mini-program includes breakfast stalls served in the market, as well as cloth repairing services and community canteens around the market.

Technical service provider Sinxin Information Technology has contributed to the digital and intelligent upgrading of thousands of farmers’ markets in China. An employee of the company told People’s Daily that intelligent markets, employing Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies, boast smart and targeted management and operation. They have brought much convenience and benefits to consumers, merchants and market operators, the employee said.

Zhang Peili, associate professor with the School of Economics, Renmin University of China, said intelligent markets conform to the rapid development of the digital economy, and manifest the industrial digitalization in the sales of farm produce.

Digital technologies, which help lower cost, improve efficiency and make products traceable, have made farmers’ markets more economical, convenient and safer, she noted.

In the future, intelligent markets should take into full consideration of the new features of consumers, and make payment methods easier and more diversified, Zhang added.

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