Alibaba Enters Further into Retail With Supermarket Group
Alibaba Group Holding will team up with one of the largest chains of department stores and supermarkets, Bailian Group, as founder Jack Ma speeds up his effort to use technology to shake up the retail industry.
Alibaba plans to help upgrade some of the 4,700 stores owned by Bailian across China, integrating things from payment and customer relations to logistics in a way that is similar to tie ups that it has with other companies such as Suning Commerce Group the electronics chain.
The e-commerce giant has vanquished Amazon and eBay in China and has now set its sights on taking its technology and data to transform the more than $4 trillion world of China brick and mortar retail.
Alibaba, in its largest deal yet in this foray, is leading in an attempt to buy Intime Retail Group, a chain of department stores for up to $2.6 billion.
Its co-founder, a billionaire wants to build out a network that would allow brands and stores to monitor transactions while they happen that would rid layers of distributors giving retail outlets the opportunity to place orders in real time online.
Shares of Bailian surged on Monday to their daily limit of 10% in Shanghai after it was reported by the China Securities journal about the partnership citing sources it did not identify.
Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said through a statement sent through email that Alibaba’s partnership just agreed to with Bailian was a big milestone for Chinese retail’s evolution, where the distinction between virtual and physical commerce is quickly become obsolete.
Amazon.com is keen as well on demonstrating how its technology is able to transform the shopping experience.
The e-commerce behemoth unveiled in December its Amazon Go, which allows shoppers in Seattle to pick up groceries without having to wait in lines at the checkout as their account is charged automatically when exiting.
As with Alibaba, Amazon is the titan of U.S. e-commerce and has extensive amounts of experience in dealing with valuable supply chain and customer data as well as shopping patterns.
With Bailian, China based Alibaba will tap into a network of more than 4,700 stores in 25 provinces of China and apart from Hangzhou based Intime, has invested already in retail operators such as Sanjiang Shopping Club and Suning.
Alibaba will not take a stake in the partnership with Bailian, but the two will be integrating membership databases as well as using facial recognition technology as a way to improve the experience of shoppers.