Suning empowers small retailers near Vietnam border

  • August 3, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Chinese smart retail service provider Suning is using its retail cloud to empower rural businesses at the China-Vietnam border. is supporting rural family-run shops with its retail cloud model that offers a new pattern of shopping in the country’s lower-tier cities. It has extended its reach to Dongxing, the China-Vietnam border port in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

With its geographical convenience, Dongxing has a vivid trading scene and has served as an important local spot for border trade.

That’s why Liao Quanxing and Tang Danfeng, a local married couple, started their own businesses under Suning’s retail cloud strategy last year. After failing to run a rubber importing business in 2012, Liao joined the border control authority to inspect smuggling and stowaway, a job that came with much more risks.

In May 2020, Liao and Tang, who is of Chinese and Vietnamese descent and speaks native Vietnamese, decided to open the first Suning retail cloud store in Dongxing. The business soon took off and brought in RMB600,000 in total sales in the first month.

Given the success of their first Suning retail cloud store, the couple quickly decided to open a second store the next month, still in Dongxing.

By providing a one-stop integrated shopping experience of home appliance, furniture and other household goods, Suning’s retail cloud aims to serve consumers in lower-tier and county-level areas and at the same time help micro and small business merchants thrive in these markets in China.

An advantage of running businesses in Dongxing is the diversity of the local clientele. Suning retail sales often provide local consumers with exclusive goods, which meet the diversified demands in Dongxing. For example, the sales value of exclusive items in the two stores operated by Liao and Tang accounted for a quarter of all the sales of the couple’s stores. These exclusive products ensure the stores’ profitability and bring a more advanced shopping experience for consumers, boosting the annual sales of these stores to reach RMB6.3m.

“When I started my own importing business right after graduation, I couldn’t sleep at night due to the risky nature of the business,” Liao said. “Now with Suning retail cloud, I can just steadily make money.”

Tang added: “Suning’s supplies of home appliances are quite reputable among consumers from Vietnam, especially for brands such as Midea and Supor that make small home appliances.”

Word of mouth also played a part in terms of sales. Tang said that in August 2020, a Vietnamese customer bought a refrigerator at her store and found the shopping experience pleasant and the products good in quality, and thus recommended the stores to more shoppers from Vietnam.

Another major group of clients for the couple’s stores are the local Gin people, an ethnic minority in China.

“The Gin people make their wealth from fishing and tourism,” Tang said, adding that Gin consumers tend to prefer large brands such as Panasonic and Siemens. “About 30% of sales of our stores are driven by this group of customers.”

Dedicated to serving rural customers, Suning announced earlier this month that it plans to open another 900 retail cloud stores in the next three months with a special focus on home furnishing stores.

Founded in 1990, Suning Group has two listed subsidiaries at home and abroad and more than 300,000 employees around the world, ranking third in the Chinese private sector. It provides products and services to more than 700 million customers worldwide. is an online-to-offline (O2O) smart retail service provider.