Alibaba Group Holding, which operates the Hema chain of supermarkets, introduced an adult channel on the grocer’s delivery app this week, promising to deliver everything from condoms to dildos to consumers within 30 minutes after the order is placed by mobile phone.
The new section in the Hema app, open to consumers in Shanghai from 10pm on Monday, has a selection of about 700 adult products, of which 50 are available for the super-express service, the Hangzhou-based company said in a release.
Condoms, pregnancy test kits and lubricant were the top-selling items during the three-month trial before the official launch of the service, the company said.
“We tried to list adult products as a separate section in Hema as sales of sex tools stood out from other consumer goods and consumers also have high requirements on a timely delivery,” Gen Xian, a Hema marketing director, said in the release.
The Hema chain has been the poster child for Alibaba’s push to integrate online and offline shopping experiences. Shoppers at the physical store can have their groceries delivered to their home addresses, while online purchases can be picked up at the checkout counter.
The three-month trial yielded some interesting insights into buyers of adult-related products.
Consumers aged between 40 and 49 made the biggest purchases on Hema for sex-related products, which include condoms.
Those 50 and above made up the biggest proportion of buyers of sex toys, which include dildos and vibrators. These consumers also prefer high-end imported products.
Women prefer products imbued with scents or flavours, such as caramel-flavoured massage oil and strawberry ice-cream flavoured condoms.
Women choose more expensive lubricants, buying products that cost on average four times more than what men pay for
With a population of 1.4 billion people, China’s adult products market is a big one. The e-commerce market for such products reached 18.9 billion yuan (US$3 billion) last year, according to iiMedia Research, which estimates sales to increase to 60 billion yuan a year by 2020.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.