MissFresh acquires unmanned retail company Zailouxia

Missfresh took over Zailouxia, an unmanned convenience store chain on Jan. 7 and now has more than 10,000 vending machines in nine cities across China.

Zailouxia, which means “at your doorstep”, was founded in 2017 by ZHANG Ying, who also founded grocery app Bee Quick in 2014. Zailouxia had four rounds of funding in its first year, but its business rapidly deteriorated due to high maintenance costs. .

Vending machines have become popular again due to the pandemic as people opt for contactless retail. In 2020, Zailouxia added 200 new locations and the turnover of each location doubled. The company now has 600 unmanned stores and 1,800 vending machines.

Missfresh is also no stranger to vending machines, which were first installed in office buildings in 2017. In its second quarter financial report last year, Missfresh said vending machine revenues increased by 23% year-on-year to reach 40 million yuan ($6.3 million).

Unstaffed retail can be quite risky. Meat, vegetables and fruits can disappear in a day or two. As the pandemic subsides, many prefer to shop in markets where they have more choice and human contact.

Missfresh has lost 7.6 billion yuan over the past two years. Whether acquiring Zailouxia is a blessing or a burden, only time will tell.

Anne G. Cash