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Alibaba Supermarkets Roll Out Drug-Dispensing Vending Machines

By Matthew Walsh / Jul 19, 2019 06:18 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s e-commerce colossus Alibaba has partnered with Sinopharm, one of the country’s major drug companies, to dispense over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

Customers at Shanghai-based outlets of Freshippo — Alibaba’s brick-and-mortar retail store, also known as Hema — can now purchase around 120 different medicines through self-service vending machines, allowing them to treat colds, coughs, and other common ailments. The drugs are also available through Freshippo’s smartphone app.

The two companies plan to extend the service nationwide, according to a statement posted to Freshippo’s official public account on WeChat, China’s ubiquitous social messaging app.

Alibaba and Sinopharm’s matchup comes at a time when Chinese health care companies are increasingly turning to e-commerce models to satisfy customer demand.

Online platform JD.com, for example, is partnering with drug stores in major Chinese cities to offer 24-hour OTC medicine delivery services, while food delivery and lifestyle app Meituan also allows delivery staff to purchase OTCs users ordered online from local pharmacies.

Zhao Runhua contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Wants a Hema Supermarket in Every Big Chinese City

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