Alibaba is continuing its push into brick-and-mortar with a strategic partnership with Bailian Group, which operates 4,700 supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores in China.
The two companies will use Alibaba’s big data to improve supply chain technology and the ecommerce giant’s Alipay will be integrated into Bailian’s membership program.
“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, Alibaba’s chief executive officer, told Bloomberg.
As the company continues to grow its online presence and tools, Alibaba is looking to capture more of China’s $4.8 trillion retail sector. To do so, it’s looking to physical stores—investing in some and partnering with others to provide true omnichannel engagement.
In January, the company made a bid to acquire a controlling stake in Intime Retail Group, owner of 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls, for $2.6 billion. In November, Alibaba invested $302 million in Sanjiang Shopping Club, a leading grocery chain.