The nearly twenty years lost in the computer and digital city are just a comma to the transforming Zhongguancun. Dinghao Electronics City, which has been in business for 17 years, will be fully closed in October. “According to Beijing’s master plan and Haidian district plan, we must vigorously promote the construction of the National Science and Technology Innovation Center and the Zhongguancun Science City, and improve the business adjustment and industrial upgrading of the Zhongguancun West District. Dinghao Electronics Building will be closed in October 2020.”
The notice was officially issued in August this year and posted at the entrance of the first floor of Dinghao Building.
Walk 300 meters from the Zhongguancun subway station, and you will see Dinghao Building-the eastern building has been surrounded by a temporary wall of the construction department. The entrance to the Electronic City has already been sealed, and each door is guarded by two or three security guards. Through the glass, the hypermarket on the first floor of the building was dark and empty. In the shops facing the street, the advertising signs of the previous generation iPhone and ThinkPad X1 have not had time to be torn off.
There are still sparse merchants downstairs in Dinghao to transport the goods, scattered shopkeepers smoking cigarettes at the door of the building, waiting for customers’ cars to pull the goods, and then returning to the warehouse on the ground floor of the building to wait for the next order .
According to the merchants, most of the counters in Dinghao Electronic City have moved to the opposite Electronics City, which is the only electronic hypermarket in Zhongguancun that has not yet been closed. eWorld and Hailong Electronics City were closed in 2015 and 2016, transforming into education and financial centers.
Few young people pay attention to this place-many people no longer know that this sealed store once supported the title of China’s “Silicon Valley” together with e-world and Hailong Electronics City, and here is also the patriot Feng Junhe. “Big people” such as Jingdong Liu Qiangdong.
The entrance gate of Dinghao Electronic City is closed, and the huge propaganda sign says “Enter the world of mobile 4G experience”. The brightly-colored billboards that have not been removed have become the last footnotes of this once bustling electronic city.
There are no more young people in the Electronic City
The air in the Electronic City is a bit stuffy, but Li Dahai is used to it. He hid behind a pile of card cameras and played with his mobile phone, another afternoon without showing up.
Two guests visited his shop this afternoon: one was an old man carrying a plastic bag in the supermarket downstairs from the store, and the other was an old man with a brand-name handheld DV equipped with an external microphone. Zhang Hailiang did not find a suitable one for him. Accessories, the old man left.
Li Dahai moved from Dinghao Electronics City to KTC Electronics City last year.The two buildings are separated by a road.And he has been guarding his camera shop for seven years. It is more appropriate to call it a counter than a shop—less than two square meters and a monthly rent of 1,000 yuan a month. In this way, the counters are filled with three floors. Thousands of merchants sell all kinds of digital products here. The entire store is crowded, cramped, and outdated.
The first floor of the Electronics City has been emptied. Picture: Phoenix Network Technology
There are few customers here, and there are almost no young faces. Sometimes nearby staff come to inquire, and more are the elderly who can’t shop online. “Business is not good”, this is what many shopkeepers say.
The Science and Trade Electronic City is facing the exit of Zhongguancun Metro Station and has a unique geographical location. More than 10 years ago, this area was the most well-known electronic product distribution center in Beijing and even the whole country: the latest trendy computers, mobile phones, USB flash drives, and Mp4 are everywhere.
At the end of the last century, with the popularization of electronic products, several major electronic stores were gradually established. In 2006 and 2007, the Zhongguancun e-World and Dinghao Phase II opened one after another. The Zhongguancun IT store covers an area of more than 320,000 square meters, which is equivalent to 44 football fields.
The Hailong Building across the street from the Electronics City, Photo: Phoenixnet Technology
By 2008, the scale of Zhongguancun’s electronic market reached its peak, forming a pattern dominated by 9 large electronic product stores such as Hailong, KTC, Dinghao, and eWorld. According to a shopkeeper of the Electronic City, around 2006, the place was crowded with people, and water was not leaking.“Even Hailong Plaza is full of people, and the rent for a store is as high as 40,000.”
It used to be a paradise for young people, from shop owners to consumers. Countless young people started their businesses in the cubicles of the store, and the surrounding universities also brought a steady stream of customers here. Consumer-grade computers have begun to enter the homes of ordinary people, and all kinds of electronic devices are dazzled. In the eyes of many people, that was an era when they came to Zhongguancun to make money.
Zhang Lianglai came to Zhongguancun from Shandong in 2006, and his job selling mobile phones made him the first person of his age to earn one million a year. “Every time I had a meal, I was a treat. At that time, being a small entrepreneur in Zhongguancun was a proud thing in front of relatives and friends.”
At that time, Zhongguancun Electronic City was also a price compass for electronic consumer products in Beijing and even the whole country. Many editors of science and technology websites will go to Zhongguancun every day to inquire about prices and publish them on the website for consumers’ reference. This work to solve the problem of information flow made the later leading IT vertical websites such as Zhongguancun Online, Pacific Computer Network, and Paobao.com.
Zhang Liang does not remember when the decline of Zhongguancun Electronics City began, but he can clearly perceive that as domestic brands such as Xiaomi, Meizu, OPPO, vivo and other domestic brands set off price wars, foreign brands are on the e-commerce channels and offline electronics The city began to go downhill.
Not only that, with the rise of mobile e-commerce, the compression of sales channels, coupled with the strong buying and selling of electronic hypermarkets, and the prevalence of fraud, Zhongguancun, which used to be thriving in the past, is becoming deserted. Few young people will come here to shop. It is another enviable career.
Zhang Liang bid farewell to the identity of the small owner of Zhongguancun in 2015 and became an offline distributor of Xiaomi, managing 9 Xiaomi stores in Beijing. “Young people now prefer to go to Shopping Malls with transparent prices and standard services. This trend will be in the future. Will not change,” Zhang Liang said.
Downstairs in the Electronics City, there are many people who use small pushers to carry boxes of goods. A computer distributor told Phoenix.com that there are fewer and fewer retailers in the Electronics City, and most of these businesses do wholesale. .
Not surprisingly, this will be the last place for all Electronics City merchants to settle in Zhongguancun.
Leave or garrison?
“A total of 17 years and 2 months,” Hu Weiqiang clearly remembered the time he came to Zhongguancun. Hu Weiqiang has never been a counter owner, but never really left Zhongguancun.
His role is as a supplier to the owners of Zhongguancun. In 2005, he became a distributor of Lenovo ThinkPad. The office is located on the second floor of Dinghao Electronics City.
He briefly worked in the same building as Liu Qiangdong. “At that time, Liu Qiangdong was selling CDs upstairs, and we were working downstairs,” Hu Weiqiang joked.“He is still above and we are below.”
Beijing Shenzhou Tongzheng Computer Equipment Co., Ltd. founded by Hu Weiqiang is less than 3 kilometers away from Dinghao Building. In Zhongguancun for more than 10 years, he has gradually become a core partner of Lenovo ThinkPad and Lenovo Server from a small channel. Witnessed the whole process of computer retail in Zhongguancun Electronic City from prosperity to decline.
Before the rise of JD and Taobao, the offline electronic city was the most important channel for purchasing computers. “At that time, there were no computers with less than 10,000 yuan. Each computer had 7 to 8 points of profit, and a computer could earn six to seven hundred yuan.”
Around 2010, Hu Weiqiang felt that computer sales had entered a period of flattening. After losing many counters and store channels, he had to turn to industry and online sales.
Zhang Liang, who is in the business of parallel imports of mobile phones, also saw changes in the market. At that time, foreign brand mobile phones were priced inflated domestically. The “parallel imports” version of Nokia, HTC, and Samsung poured into the country through various channels, and the digital city became this batch of parallel imports. The best place to sell. However, after the Android system entered the country, the rise of domestic mobile phones represented by Xiaomi has flattened the mobile phone channels.
The decline in computer gross profit and the rise of domestic mobile phones are just signs of the decline of the Electronic City.
On the one hand, online shopping malls represented by JD.com have carried out a dimensionality reduction crackdown on the electronic city-making money for asymmetric information is the default behavior of the electronic city retailers. When the price becomes transparent, the profit margin of the business is also compressed. With the rise of e-commerce, online and offline products have the same price. You must know that in the era of opaque prices, selling mobile phones is essentially “relying on flickering.”
On the other hand, three electronic cities have opened one after another, making Zhongguancun extremely prosperous, and also intensifying competition here. Products are becoming homogeneous. It is common for a row of businesses to sell the same model of machines.
Under the influence of a variety of factors, many merchants have begun to take the lead-a bad trend of soliciting customers, buying and selling, mismatched goods, and cheating consumers has gradually formed. Zhang Liang said that there are often competitors who snatch and take away customers at low prices, and they deceive customers in a variety of ways.“The reputation of Zhongguancun Electronic City accelerated its decline”,He said.
In the visible depression, Zhang Liang, who believes in honest management, chose to leave Zhongguancun, while Hu Weiqiang was seeking transformation. On the one hand, he began acting as an agent for Lenovo servers and started to build JD Lenovo’s flagship store for commercial use. On the other hand, he was constantly seeking new ones. Direction of development.
“I was lucky enough to catch the last train of e-commerce. From a company that moved boxes to a company with some technical content, I hope that the company can keep pace with the times and constantly surpass itself, so that employees’ incomes are getting higher and higher and their lives Better and better,” he said.
The end of the only remaining “city”
Unlike Hu Weiqiang and Zhang Liang, there are some businesses who choose to stay at the counters and stores in the stores, and Laowu is one of them. He moved around several electronic cities, and after all of them were shut down, he finally came to KTC.
Although all these electronic cities have been emptied and closed, Liu Qiangdong’s words will always be repeated when talking about Zhongguancun Electronic City:
“Actually, it is not JD.com who killed you, but you yourself! Ask yourself, how many tricks have you done? How many counterfeit goods have been sold? How many customers have been beaten up? This is karma!”
Around 2009, the news about Zhongguancun Electronic City in newspapers and TV was shocking: vicious incidents of fraud, abuse, and even beating of customers occurred from time to time. Merchants operating with good faith suffered “bad money expelling good money” and stopped because of being cheated. There are many consumers who set foot in this place.
Under the rectification of government departments, the vicious incidents of the Electronic City have gradually decreased, but the decline of the Electronic City business has been irreversible. The “Planning” released in 2015 proposed that Zhongguancun Street will completely bid farewell to the traditional electronic store format within 3 to 5 years.
The closure of Dinghao Electronic City is seen by many as the finale of Zhongguancun Electronic City, but this is not the case. Due to the closure of several major stores, all the shopkeepers who chose to stay in Zhongguancun moved to the Electronics City, even though the scale here is less than one-tenth of the heyday of Zhongguancun.
The first floor of the Science and Trade Electronic City has long been emptied, the second to fourth floors are hypermarkets, and the fifth floor is the school district for educational institutions.
If you walk around three floors, you can basically find all the electronic equipment you want-not only mobile phones, computers, live broadcast equipment, printers, electronic scales, but also an electronic department store wholesale center. There will still be people standing at the elevators of the stores to solicit customers. If consumers do not understand the market, they will still buy goods above the market price.
Electronics City Map: Phoenix Network Technology
However, today’s Electronic City no longer dared to “kill” customers arbitrarily. The old five, who is doing mobile phone retail business in the Electronics City, tried his best to defend this. He pointed to the police room on the third floor of the store and said, “Did you see it? I need to report here for receiving and shipping goods. The stolen goods will be severely punished; once the situation of forced buying and selling, and the wrong goods is reported, the police office will ask the security to close the shop first and then investigate. It is no joke.
Lao Wu said that every month the management staff will organize meetings with shopkeepers to advocate building a better business environment. “Everyone understands that the longer the stores live, we can eat.”
Will Zhongguancun’s “Last City” Electronics City also close? A shopkeeper asked with a smile, “Who knows this?”
What everyone knows is that the new generation of consumers will no longer set their sights on this noisy and cramped store, and the Zhongguancun Electronic City era of “picking money everywhere” is no longer. The Electronic City once brought glory to Zhongguancun and also brought infamy, but all of this has finally become the past tense.
(Intern Yang Duo also contributed to this article)