Freshhema (Hema Xiansheng) Was Suspected of Fraud, as the Symbol and Pioneer of Alibaba's "New Retail"
COVID-19 and China

Nov 17, 2018, according to a news from Knews, the video news brand of SMG (Shanghai Media Group), Freshhema (Hema Xiansheng, 盒马鲜生), the Alibaba-owned online-to-offline supermarket chain, was suspected of fraud, by replacing the expired vegetables' labels with new ones with the current date.

This incident was witnessed by a consumer, Mr. Fang, in Freshhema Daning Store (盒马鲜生大宁店), one store of Hema's supermarket chain, on Nov 15. 

Mr. Fang occasionally saw the staff beside him was replacing the labels of the carrots, and which behavior confused him. "I saw that she had replaced the labels and threw them into the trash can. Then I went to pick the labels out with the astonishing finding that the labels were of Nov 9th, 10th, and 11th."

Screenshot of the Knews' video news, showed the labels with the expiration date:

Hema Xiansheng's Labels with expired date

As the symbol and pioneer of Alibaba's "New Retail" concept as well as practice, Freshhema somehow represented Alibaba's business philosophy and management capability. Such fraudulent incident will definitely have a great negative impact on the credibility of Freshhema and even Alibaba.

In the author's opinion, this incident should not be resulted from the will of Alibaba and was more likely to be a reflection of Freshhema's chaotic management. Also in this month, Hema Xiansheng's new store opened in Kunming, Yunnan, with a claim that the number of Freshhema supermarket will soon exceed 100. Freshhema's management team seemed to focus more on the pace of new store openings, rather than the internal management and quality control.

As to this incident, Freshhema Daning Store's  senior staff put the blame on that employee and said: "that staff was an elder sister who was not well educated while warm-hearted, she thought food wrapper was broken, thus then replaced them, without thinking about the importance of label.", "It was she herself to print those labels with our label machine". And even the manager, told Mr. Fang that this staff was an external third-party employee, and had already been fired for this incident.

The responses from the store mentioned above were actually too amateur, even if they told the truth, which also can be doubted with at least three problems:

1. They said their employee was uneducated (没文化);
2. They said everybody could print labels as many as they want in Freshhema, whenever.
3. They fired the uneducated warm-hearted employee because of their own management mistakes.

While if the statements were not true, the management team of this store would have to face their own problems. 

Freshhema's official PR department responded today, that "This kind of behavior is absolutely not allowed in our company, and we have started our internal investigation."

- Author: ZHANG Fan; Write to ZHANG Fan at


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