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Brick-and-mortar bookstores launch 'takeout' service

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-18 16:26
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A total of 72 brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing have settled in Meituan Dianping, China's online food delivery platform, and launched "takeout" service to attract more customers and mitigate the effect of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In about 30 minutes, Beijing resident Guo received his book from a deliveryman after he placed an order on the Meituan app.

It is the first order for the Rongke branch of Zhongshuge Bookstore since the chain bookstore brand closed all its stores on Feb. 1.

The temporary closedown of Zhongshuge is not an individual case. Data showed that affected by the epidemic, about 80 percent of brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing have been closed.

According to a questionnaire survey conducted by the Beijing Institute of Culture Innovation and Communication, 48.4 percent of the 248 respondent bookstores said their cash flow can only last for one to three months, while 27.4 percent said their cash flow can only last for one month.

According to the Rongke branch of Zhongshuge Bookstore, its daily customer flow was about 3,000 on average in the same period last year. This year, due to the closure of the store and the lack of sales channels, its sales revenue plunged to zero in February.

Meanwhile, for the Guomao branch of the Jianshe Bookstore, the passenger flow also dropped by more than 80 percent during the epidemic.

To survive the crisis, brick-and-mortar bookstores that once relied heavily on social gatherings are resorting to shifting their markets and services from offline to online through new approaches including live streaming and online selling.

To help bookstores resume business, Beijing authorities have coordinated with Meituan to provide an online selling platform and improve delivery times for bookstores.

The food delivery platform promised to exempt platform service fees and provide the operation guidance and other supports for bookstores to help them speed up transformation.

Meanwhile, Meituan also simplified procedures for a bookstore to settle in the platform. It takes no more than one day for a bookstore to open an online store on the Meituan app.

"Many books do not yet have e-book versions. If there is a need to find information, there is no solution when bookstores are closed," said Guo. "The 'takeout' service of books helps solve the problem."

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