15FEN: Finding the Blue Ocean in China's Fresh Food
15fen was the name Henry He gave his first business venture – a neighborhood store in Guangdong province, China, which promised home delivery of a grocer order within 15 minutes. His inaugural slogan was, “Staple Food & Seasoning, Everything At Your Doorstep in 15 Minutes”. A first time entrepreneur, he was imbued with optimism towards internet retailing, and convinced that home delivery within 15 minutes was an unbeatable proposition. In no time, he learned the realities of the grocery business – low margin and hard labor – carrying bags of rice and tins of cooking oil from door to door. Back in 2012, China’s internet retailing was dominated by Consumer Electronics, Apparel and Footwear and Consumer Appliances. Fresh Food was tipped to be the next big driver for e-commerce. Headlines such as “Fresh Food e-commerce will be the next blue ocean” were commonplace in the media, and they captured the imagination of aspiring entrepreneurs like Henry He. He was determined to ride this e-retailing wave to create his blue ocean in Fresh Food. But first, he must learn how to swim.