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Vanguard, Tesco unit planning tech JV

VANGUARD, China’s top supermarket chain, and Tesco’s data analysis firm, Dunnhumby, yesterday announced a 50-50 joint venture on data science.

Vanguard, a unit of Fortune 500 firm China Resources, is the first offline retailer in the country to establish a professional data firm.

It comes as China’s retail landscape embraces the Internet and technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and Online-2-Offline services.

The joint venture, China Wisdom Dunnhumby, will help analyze data on shopping experience, consumer habits, multi-channel distribution networks and supply chains.

Initially, it will cater to more than 3,000 Vanguard outlets and later expand into telecommunications, banking and other industries.

“We have to embrace new trends and technologies in the new retail landscape in China,” said Xu Hui, general manager of Vanguard.

Retailers are facing challenges from online giants such as Alibaba and JD.com, which have already changed the shopping experience for consumers, analysts say.

Data-driven service will help firms find new opportunities and growth engines and Dunnhumby has 27 years’ experience in the retail industry, serving 800 million consumers globally, said Guillaume Bacuvier, the firm’s CEO.

China aims to more than triple the scale of the big data industry by 2020 in a bid to foster new economic drivers, which will increase annual sales to 1 trillion yuan (US$146 billion) by 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says.

Stores with artificial intelligence machines instead of human cashiers and checkout lines are already being trialed in Shanghai, similar to Amazon Go in the United States.

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