The Drum Awards for Marketing - Extended Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Digital Transformation Ecommerce Omnichannel

Taiwan’s FamilyMart on why a hybrid model is the future of retail in the post-pandemic era


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

February 23, 2022 | 6 min read

The Drum catches up with Sega Cheng, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ikala and a spokesperson from FamilyMart, to find out how the Taiwan convenience store chain has been leveraging artificial technology to create an immersive omnichannel experience for customers in Taiwan during the pandemic


Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with retail outlets, including convenience stores

So, why did FamilyMart launch an omnichannel convenience store in Taiwan?

In 2019, FamilyMart launched a range of one-shop online shopping platforms – such as Famistore, Famishop, Haostore and Haofresh – to demassify its retail model and cater to individual segment needs. Since then, these platforms have been used by more than 400,000 merchants and created more than 20m customer orders.

Emboldened by this growth and the rising popularity of social commerce in the region, FamilyMart started working with us earlier this year to localize our approach in Taiwan and launch Shoplus Taiwan – which leverages AI technology to create an immersive omnichannel shopping experience for Taiwanese customers.

Together, we have created an automated sales ecosystem that not only optimizes e-commerce but also blends it with the in-store experience, allowing customers to shop across channels without friction. Under the new model, buyers can collect online orders at any of FamilyMart’s nearly 4,000 physical stores. The model also benefits sellers by allowing them to leverage FamilyMart’s densely distributed network store-to-store logistics and cash flow services for additional convenience.

What issues does an omnichannel convenience store solve?

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with retail outlets, including convenience stores. The pandemic propelled the growth of e-commerce, but as parts of the world open up, consumers are seeking both convenience and engagement in their shopping experiences. For retailers, the solution lies in blending brick-and-mortar with advanced digital capabilities for a new, hybrid future.

This is where omnichannel shines. Industry leaders are already starting to build omnichannel models to meet customers where they are most comfortable – be it mobile apps or curbside pickup points. The key to doing this well lies in leveraging data to drive more personalized and consistent experiences across touchpoints.

It has become clear that the changes in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic are here to stay and omnichannel models will play a vital part in helping brands stay connected with customers and drive retail success.

How easy was it to bring this model to life?

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by IKala and FamilyMart in bringing this new format to life was integrating the logistics. In a nutshell, IKala’s AI-driven live selling solution had to be merged with FamilyMart’s store-to-store pickup and payment service for sellers.

Eventually, these challenges were overcome by technology. The teams tapped heavily on Shoplus, IKala’s AI commerce solution – which is an automated sales technology capable of detecting more than 80 messages a second to identify purchase intention and generate sales orders. This flagship technology was modified to create an entirely new back-end ecosystem that combined features like order information, customer management, and logistical services to help sellers easily view and manage a range of different functions.

Both teams spent over seven months bringing these parts together and running tests to ensure seamless integration before officially launching the model. Moving forward, the teams continue to explore ways to add more payment methods and further enhance the logistical support to include categories that require refrigeration, freezing and other different temperature levels.

How is AI enhancing the hybrid retail experience?

Winning customer attention and share of wallet in today’s crowded landscape requires brands to offer the right product through the right channels at the right time.

The online shopping world is teeming with real-time data on buyer behavior and shopping habits. Understanding and leveraging this is crucial to help retailers gain actionable insights to identify opportunities in a timely and precise manner. This is where AI plays a role – its ability to quickly process large troves of data makes it a valuable tool for the transformation of the retail value chain.

In today’s context, operating without AI is like taking a shot in the dark. Its application in modern retail serves a range of uses – from making personalized recommendations to creating fully automated shopper journeys.

Are hybrid models the future of retail?

The retail industry is undergoing a massive shift right now. From on-and-off store closures to the rise in online spending, the rules of retail are changing. Amid these shifts, the key to success lies in forming both online and offline connections with consumers through a unified and seamless experience.

Industry giants like Amazon saw this coming many years ago. It’s been nearly four years since it opened the first Amazon Go, its AI-infused convenience store in Seattle that lets customers take what they need and ’just walk out’, using computer vision, sensors and deep learning algorithms to track and charge for the items. Retail technology is advancing at a rapid pace and it won’t be long before we see more of these models

Digital Transformation Ecommerce Omnichannel

More from Digital Transformation

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +