Alibaba just can’t sate its appetite for automated retailing. First the e-commerce giant wowed consumers with its high-concept unmanned convenience stores, and then it was automated gas stations. Now the company has mouths watering at an office building in Shanghai, where it has set up a vending machine dispensing live, freshwater hairy crabs – one of the city’s most famous delicacies, Caixin reports. Alibaba was set to roll out the machine around the just-ended Oct. 1 National Day holiday in partnership with Yiguo, one of its main partners in selling fresh produce, according to local media reports. Yiguo’s own website features a variety of fresh seafood, including oysters and other shellfish. But the new vending machines take the fresh concept to a new level, using technology to control internal temperature and humidity levels to parallel the crabs’ natural environment. As in the West, such crustaceans are nearly always kept alive until just before they’re cooked.
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