HONG KONG — Continuing its expansion into the world of offline retailing, Alibaba has announced a strategic partnership with the Chinese bricks-and-mortar retailer Bailian.
Under the new agreement, the two will work together on many fronts, from designing new retail stores, R&D investment and customer relationship management, to online payment platforms and supply chain.
“Our partnership with Bailian is an important milestone in the evolution of Chinese retail, where the distinction between physical and virtual commerce is becoming obsolete,” Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group said.
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Headquartered in Shanghai, Bailian is one of China’s largest retailers with more than 4,700 outlets across China. The conglomerate operates a range of department stores, shopping malls, supermarkets and convenience stores.
The partnership follows Alibaba’s offer to take department store operator Intime private for $2.6 billion and the purchase of a minority stake in the physical discount grocer Sanjiang in November.
Zhang added: “New retail re-imagines the relationship between consumers, merchandise and retail space by leveraging mobile Internet and big data. It will upend the traditional manufacturing and supply chain, the connection between merchant and consumer, as well as the overall consumer experience.”
The department store sector in China is ripe for disruption, with no single operator dominating the country as operators battle with new shopping mall formats and ecommerce.