Alibaba, operator of the world's largest ecommerce platform, is to purchase a stake in Lianhua Supermarket chain as part of the brand’s ‘new retail’ strategy.
Alibaba will take an 18% stake in Lianhua, which is one of China’s leading supermarket chains and is owned by retail giant Bailian Group. The deal sees Alibaba become the second-largest shareholder in Lianhua, which has over 3,600 stores across China.
The investment expands on Alibaba’s collaboration with Bailian Group after the two companies signed a strategic partnership in February to integrate the offline stores with Alibaba’s online experience to create a better shopping experience.
It is part of Alibaba’s “new retail” strategy, which aims to transform traditional commerce by harnessing data and offering a seamless online and offline experience.
Alibaba aims to blur the lines between ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar stores by integrating online and offline stores, payment systems, membership programs, merchandise and logistics.
The strategy aims to integrate the consumer data that Alibaba and its retail partners collect to better identify, analyse and target consumers across its ecommerce platforms Tmall and Taobao.
It is the latest move by the ecommerce giant as it seeks to grow its footprint in bricks-and-mortar retail, Alibaba bought a stake in Chinese mall operator Intime Retail in 2014 and offered to privatise the company earlier this year. It has also invested in Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce and grocery store chain Sanjiang Shopping Club.