Several Chinese cities have been placed on lockdown due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain and their residents have been relying on delivery platforms to get the groceries and essentials that they need. After launching its community group buying business in early February, has served about 200 residential compounds in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Community group buying business, Friends Shop, has collaborated with local markets and marketing cooperatives to purchase fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables together with other daily necessities such as rice, flour, grain, and cooking oil. The staff at Friends Shop then pack the products based on options picked by consumers.

During the epidemic, Friends Shop has been offering a contact-free pick-up service for Wuhan’s consumers. Vehicles transporting the products are disinfected every day before departing and frozen products and fresh vegetables are packaged separately. Friends Shop also guides customers to make appointments to pick up goods at different time slots.

“Friends Shop now offers an operation field counsel (OFC) partnership model, in which JD applies its expertise in retail innovation, supply chain, and online operations to provide omnichannel services to regional partners, helping traditional stores expand their offerings,” said Wei Wei, 7FRESH’s community retail innovation at

“Most recently, has also partnered with Tianfu convenience store chain to provide the Friends Shop community group buying service in Guangdong,” Wei added.

Friend Shop is not a new addition to the market. In late 2018, began to recruit brick-and-mortar stores such as mom-and-pop stores to become partners in the community. Through WeChat, shop owners can promote group buying products with nearby residents. Consumers can order on the Friends Shop mini programme hosted on WeChat, and products will then be delivered the next day to a dedicated pick-up location, such as a partner shop within the community.

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