Alibaba, you may or may not have heard of this little Chinese e-commerce marketplace. They only delivers a measly 57 million parcels daily and take 54% of the B2C market share. Talk about abysmal. Their platform consists of largely of third-party sellers and they are most easily compared to E-bay. So why would they want to open a new brick and mortar shopping center in Hangzhou, China? Well, world domination of course.
According to MarketWatch, this will not be just a small pop-up shop that may or may not stick around. Quite the opposite. Alibaba’s vision is a five-story mall that will bear the name, “More Mall.” The infrastructure is projected to be set in place and ready for business in April and will span a 40,000 square meter lot.
It may seem counterintuitive for a conglomerate based on a digital online marketplace to foray into the physical one. In a report on Retail Dive, this is not their first venture into stores. In fact, they’ve made appearances in various electronics and department stores in China. In addition, they have even started a small grocery chain.
In the United States storefronts are closing at an alarming rate, even affecting some of the oldest heritage brands. Interestingly enough, there is a correlation. Alibaba’s venture into physical retail is actually based off of the growing Chinese middle class and their newfound spending power. In opposition, America’s shrinking middle class has left consumers scrounging for the best bargain, which usually is found online.
Alibaba and the More Mall is not going to reject its online stronghold. They plan on creating a seamless omnichannel experience for consumers. In the same report, they have expressed plans to keep them interacting online through mobile apps and will make retail decisions based on data and technology gathered from their users.
CEO Daniel Zhang was quoted by investors that their Taobao marketplace has, “Already accomplished a successful mobile transition. Taobao… has transformed from a marketplace to a social commerce platform. Because of the social, because of the fun of discovery, because of the experience exploration… people want to come back again and again and spend so much time with us on our leading Taobao mobile app.”
When it is broken down it appears that Alibaba is doing what other retailers are trying so desperately to tap into to save their stores. Now it proves that is not only an exciting progression, but one that will prove successful and seems like a natural extension of the company.