CM Inspires: Is the future of retail and commerce offline or online?

E-commerce company Alibaba in China is growing a chain of cashless supermarkets called Hema, not to be confused with the Dutch retailer Hema. Customers use their smartphone to pay for products, deliveries are done in under 30 minutes.

Gilbert at CM Inspires Utrecht

New standard in shopping

While many commerce experts have long predicted the imminent death of offline shops and retailers, Alibaba sets a new standard in shopping. It seamlessly blends the smartphone shopping experience and offline experience of doing groceries.

The first edition of tech-focused events CM Inspires took place in Utrecht and was themed Redesigning the Payments Space. CM Inspires was founded by and features current topics and relevant experts in these theme’s.

From the global factory to global consumer

China has long been known as the factory of the world, but the country is drastically reshaping its position into a creative global leader in commerce and retail. The Chinese are used to pay with smartphones and QR codes, showing the west how seamless payments should be.

One of the reasons the Chinese are so far ahead if it comes to commerce and seamless payments, is that they work hard and long, says Reinder van der Werf, director of commerce at Ingram Micro. The company he worked for was American but was acquired by a Chinese business. Hence, Mr. Van der Werf knows how the Chinese work.

Up to steam

“The developments in China are up to steam”, he says. “They work hard, 16 hours a day. In the night and during weekends they discuss in WeChat or WhatsApp groups work related things. Sure, their work days may not be as productive as hours, but they tend to get things done faster. And they’re super creative.”

The commerce director proves the productivity of the Chinese by displaying two images from the city of Shanghai and Shenzhen. One pictures Shenzhen in the 1960’s, the other shows the city 40 years later. It went from a rural farmland to a high rise building city, one of the largest and densely-populated of China. “If you look at what they have built in the past 40 years”, Van der Werf says, “what will they be able to achieve in the next 40?”

'Should be talking about China'

During his travels, Gilbert Gooijers, managing director for, found out that Silicon Valley for instance is not talking about China. “And they should be talking about China”, he says. “Alibaba already ships 4 times as much products per day as Amazon. The Chinese are also further if it comes to designing payments and e-commerce. Alibaba opens dozens of offline Hema stores, a successful grocery store and blends in the online experience. That’s what retail is about these days: experience and gamification in shopping, O2O: online to offline.”

Gilbert therefore asked his audience if Europe should protect its economies from technological developments from the East and the West. “Or should we learn from them and work with them? And if we do, how?”

Ready for the mobile future of ecommerce

CM has already implemented technical solutions that level and even go further developments from the area’s like Silicon Valley and the APAC region. After the eye-opening notes from Gilbert and Reinder, Software Partner Manager Jan-Willem van Vught from showed the audience of CM Inspires some of the newest features of the platform like RCS Messaging, SMS Campaigns with landing pages and much more. He also live-demoed a voice campaign to all attendees of CM Inspires to show how fast conversion rates of campaigns could be improved by a simple voice solution that can be set up in minutes.

CM Inspires - Utrecht - March 15 - Aftermovie from on Vimeo.

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