Chinese e-commerce retail giant Alibaba is putting more resources into its physical retail presence as it moves ever closer to becoming the Amazon of Asia. 

The company opened its first-ever brick-and-mortar shopping mall just last month, in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, right next to its headquarters. The mall accepts Alibaba Group’s Alipay mobile payment service and leverages the company’s extensive shipping network.

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Alibaba Betting Big on “Uni-Commerce” Model
Alibaba calls the concept “uni-commerce,” which joins together the data gathering of its entire suite of entertainment, social media and e-commerce services with the physical presence of cutting edge, cashierless brick-and-mortar stores. The data helps drive decisions for its retail locations, creating a highly personalized in-store experience.
Taking another page out of Amazon’s book following its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Alibaba Group paid $2.9 billion for a considerable stake (36%) in hypermarket chain Sun Art Retail Group, according to Nikkei Asian Review. It’s not Alibaba’s first foray into the world of food delivery, Alibaba’s existing brand of Hema supermarkets carry fresh lobsters that can be picked up or delivered in as little as 30 minutes and the company has imminent plans to incorporate food delivery app Ele.me into its offering.
Alibaba’s numbers have been impressive to say the least. Its net profit for the year ending in March spiked 47% ($10 billion), all while the percentage of Chinese consumers that shop with them online at least once a year jumped by 22% to a whopping 552 million, according to Nikkei. 
“With the continuing rollout of our new retail strategy, our e-commerce platform is developing into the leading retail infrastructure of China,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said.
Meeting Every Need of Every Shopper
The company’s move into physical retail is part of its strategy to appeal to online and offline shoppers by simultaneously catering to their every need, both through its e-commerce platforms or in-store. It’s also moving the chess pieces around the board, creating an appealing ecosystem of merchandising, order processing and payments services tools on which other merchants can piggyback. This creates a new stream of paying commercial customers who will clamor to use Alibaba’s services to gain access to their enormous customer base.

For Alibaba, these moves are all about their desire to become the everything brand for customers. Whether they want to buy dinner, buy an expensive watch, or order some popcorn to be delivered from a local convenience store. Online or off, Alibaba is looking to anticipate those needs and cater accordingly.