(Yicai Global) July 29 -- Tongrentang, China's No. 1 traditional Chinese medicine brand, is going through a radical transformation thanks to the Internet. The 347-year-old brand is learning from Internet companies to develop smart wearable devices, open "future stores" and "transform" itself with Internet thinking.
Over the past 20 years, Tongrentang Health and Pharmaceutical Co. was best known for its tastefully decorated traditional Chinese style stores and high-end ginseng and cordyceps products. Today, however, the Beijing-based company has shifted the focus of its business operations toward the Internet and intelligent manufacturing.
The venerable firm is making preparations for the development of a full suite of smart equipment and relevant technology incubators, and has piloted mobile online-to-offline operation in partnership with major e-commerce platforms.
Comprehensive strategic cooperation between Tongrentang and Yi Yao Wang (111.com.cn) allows patients to consult and communicate with Tongrentang's doctors for online diagnosis at its store on the website. Doctors can also recommend appropriate medicines and write out prescriptions.
Once a patient has placed an order, Yi Yao Wang is responsible for the delivery and follow-up service, enabling customers to receive complete medical treatment services online including diagnosis, prescription and delivery.
After making an online order, consumers can also receive treatment from doctors in nearby bricks-and-mortar stores, and follow up treatment plans can be issued. The two companies will jointly develop custom products such as exclusive medicines for online patients and bundled medicines based on big data analysis by Yi Yao Wang, targeting different user groups.
Traditional Chinese medicine, often abbreviated as TCM, has four unique diagnostic methods: "look, listen, question and feel the pulse." Yicai Global has learned that Tongrentang Health is seeking to combine wearable devices with TCM diagnostic techniques, including developing pulse-taking smart devices for TCM diagnosis and treatment services. These devices may be used in community clinics in the future.
The devices collect health data which medical professionals can analyze and use to suggest customized treatments.
Mr. Xie Chunchen, partner and COO of retail information service provider R+, was deeply impressed when he saw Tongrentang at the National Retail Federation exhibition in the US.
"The time-honored TCM brand went all the way to the US to learn about the operation of the most advanced storefront system," he said. "They raised many specific and specialized questions as to how the system was implemented and also learned from fashion brands on the in-store interactive experience. They were very serious about it."